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vol. 3, p. 140
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Voluntary Trances (continued from page 3-138) >

he had just been released, he said that we might bury him again for a twelvemonth if we pleased.”


Now the condition of the mind during the period that the trance has continued in these cases is, as I have already remarked, various. In the majority of cases, I believe, the person on coming out of the trance has no recollection whatever of anything that has occurred during the time that it has continued, and would therefore be said to have been in a state of perfect unconsciousness. For my own part, however, I do not believe that the mind is ever unconscious, but simply has in these cases, as in some others, the bridge of memory broken down. We know that dreams frequently escape us altogether on waking, except as to the merest outline of that which was most vivid at the time they occurred, and we know that sometimes a dream has gone altogether, leaving no trace behind, until some unusual circumstance has brought it to mind. The balance of evidence is, therefore, in favour of the supposition that in sleep we always dream, and that with the mind consciousness never altogether ceases. In some cases of trance the person so affected has had a most distinct recollection on awaking of everything that had transpired around his material organisation during the whole period. And in other cases the spirit has evidently gone to roam in other regions, and has brought back with it distinct recollections of its experiences. There are innumerable cases on record illustrating this fact, which will be familiar to everyone who takes an interest in topics of this kind.


II.—Psychometry. This is a power of which I have had no experience myself, and which is based upon far weaker evidence, perhaps, than the facts which I have related respecting trance, but yet which unquestionably does exist. It is extremely probable that every block of stone or petrified fossil may contain within it, written in spiritual characters, Which persons endowed with a certain kind of seership can read, a tolerably accurate history, both of itself and of its surroundings, during the long ages of the past. You will find an account of the display of this marvellous phenomenon in a work with which you are most of you probably familiar, untitled, Nature's Secrets, by Professor Denton. Many other cases, however, are on record of a similar kind. As far back as 1842 Dr. Joseph It. Buchanan, one of the most eminent philosophical writers in America, gave a course of public lectures on Anthropology, in which this subject was taken up at some length. The power is perhaps after all not very common, but still it does exist, and there are persons living who can read you through and through, nay, more, tell all your past history by looking into your face, or, perhaps, even by having placed in their hands any article with which you may have been much in contacts Professor Brittan, in his magnificent work Man and his Relations, remarks, “With the aid of a simple autograph, the soul measurer lifts the moral visor, strikes down the glittering shield and reveals the naked falsehood that lurked behind. As the subject does not appear to call for a statement of illustrative facts and experiments recorded at length, the circumstantial details may be omitted. A brief reference to the following examples will suffice to show that not only the general character and habits of thought are revealed by the psychometrical process, but the temporary moods of the mind, the existing thoughts, and the present action, are liable to cast their shadows over the sensitive soul. While Mrs. Mettler was holding a sealed letter from Dr. Buchanan, who was at that time editing the Journal of Man, she declared that the chief study of the writer was ‘Man in his whole nature.’ When an envelope enclosing some stanzas, written by a convict, was placed in her hands, she observed that the author had a double character; the sphere was unpleasant, but that the person could ‘write poetry tolerably well.’ A letter written by Kossuth immediately after the delivery of a powerful speech in St. Louis, caused her to gesticulate as if she were addressing a multitude, and this was followed by a feeling of extreme exhaustion. The letter of an insane man who had killed bis own child occasioned sympathetic delirium and convulsions. Some irregular pencil lines and scratches, traced by the hand of an infant child, gave no impression. A very delicate picture on silk, painted by Miss Thomas, of Edwardsburg, Mich., and presented to the writer, was handed to Mrs. M. under the cover of a sealed envelope, whereupon she affirmed that the author of the contents of the envelope had painted her idea instead of expressing it in words.” A number of similar cases of this kind are given in Dr. Brittan’s admirable work, and probably the power described would be more common than it is did we live higher and more spiritual lives.

The following case will show that Zschokke possessed some such power. “In company with two young student foresters, I entered the Vine-inn at Waldshut. We supped with a numerous company at the table d’hôte, where the guests were making merry with the peculiarities of the Swiss, with Mesmer’s “Magnetism,” Lavater’s “Physiognomony,” etc. One of my companions, whose national pride was wounded, begged me to make some reply, particularly to a handsome young man opposite to me, and who allowed himself extraordinary license. This man's life was at that moment presented to my mind. I asked him whether he would answer me candidly if I related to him some of the most secret passages of his life, I knowing as little of him personally as he did of me? That would be going a little further than Lavater did with his physiognomy. He promised, if I were correct, to admit it frankly. I then related what my vision had shown, and the whole company were made acquainted with the private history of the young merchant, his school years, his youthful errors, and, lastly, with a fault committed in reference to the strong box of his principal. I described to him the uninhabited room with whitened walls, where, to the right of the brown door, on a table, stood a black money-box, etc. A dead silence prevailed during the narrative, which I alone occasionally interrupted by inquiring whether I spoke the truth. The young man confirmed every particular. Touched by his candour, I shook hands with <... continues on page 3-141 >