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vol. 3, p. 141
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Voluntary Trances (continued from page 3-140) >

him, and said no more.”


The next two subjects taken up by Dr. Sexton in the paper were somnambulism and clairvoyance, and under these heads he quoted a great number of cases of an astounding character. He then went on to the subject of—

Y. Prevision.—Of this faculty there are innumerable cases on record. Wordsworth seems to have referred to this power in his preface to The Excursion, where he thus invokes the presence of the spirit:—

Descend prophetic spirit! that inspirest
The human soul of universal earth,
Dreaming of things to come; and dost possess
A metropolitan temple in the hearts
Of mighty poets; upon me bestow
A gift of genuine insight.

The same power is also referred to by Campbell, in which he makes the Seer exclaim, in defence of the prediction he has just uttered:—

For dark and despairing my sight I may soal,
But man cannot cover what God would reveal.
’Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before.

The whole scene of the Pretender and his legions flying from the bloody fields of Culloden are present to the mind of the seer. Among the German peasantry the power of prescience seems to have been very common. A collection of prophecies obtained from this source was published in Blackwood's Magazine for 1850, from which I select the following: “A Westphalian shepherd, by the name of Jaspers, a sincere and devout man, predicted in 1830, before the construction of the first English railway, that just before his death a great road would be carried through the country from west to east, which will be passed through the forest of Bodelschwing. On this road carriages will run without horses, and cause a dreadful noise. At the commencement of this work great scarcity will prevail.... Before this road is quite completed a frightful war will break out, in which a small Northern power will be conqueror.”

Almost all great events in history, and frequently small ones, have been predicted by some gifted seer. The whole future life of Joan of Arc lay clear before her in vision in her early years—a fact which is paralleled hundreds of times in history. There is a marvellous prophecy on record by Friar Bacon, six hundred years old, which I will read to you. “Bridges unsupported by arches will be made to span the foaming current. Man shall descend to the bottom of the ocean, safely breathing, and treading with firm step on the golden sands, never brightened by the light of day. Call but the sacred powers of Sol and Luna into action, and behold a single steersman sitting at the helm guiding the vessel, which divides the waves with greater rapidity than if she had been fitted with a crew of mariners toiling at the oars; and the loaded chariot no longer encumbered by the panting steeds shall dart on its course with resistless force and rapidity. Let the simple elements do the labour, bind the eternal forces and yoke them to the plough.” Here you perceive we have a clear prophecy of the future discovery of the suspension bridge, the diving bell, steam navigation, the railroad, and the steam plough.

After quoting several other very interesting cases of Prevision, Dr. Sexton concluded as follows:—

Classical scholars will recollect the dream of Hecuba, in the first month of her pregnancy with Paris, that she had brought into the world a burning torch, which had destroyed her husband’s palace, and reduced the city of Troy to ashes; how the soothsayers explained the dream as applying to the child not yet born; how to avert the calamity this infant was ordered to be destroyed as soon as it came into the world, but was afterwards exposed on Mount Ida, suckled by a she-bear, found by shepherds, and brought up amongst peasants; and how, after all, the prophetic dream was fulfilled literally, according to the interpretation of the soothsayers. Not less to the point is the dream of Calphurnia, the wife of Julius Caesar, who, the night before her husband’s murder, dreamed that the roof of the house had fallen in, and that he had been stabbed in her arms; in consequence of which dream she vainly endeavoured to detain him at home. The literature of all times, and of every country, abounds with cases of this kind. Hence the great truth expressed by Cicero— “Multa oraculis declarantur, multa vaticinationibus, multa somniis.”

Such is the country over whose existence
The brooding shades of mortal doubt are cast;
Such is the realm, that, dim with night and distance
Lies unexplored and vast.
But, when the morning comes, the spell is broken,
And like a dream the wondrous record seems;
And memory holds the solitary token
Of the dim land of dreams.

An Amiable Fiend

An Amiable Fiend.—The special correspondent of the Daily Telegraph in. India says of the Kandys, a savage hill tribe:—“Living in huts which can be built in an hour, and making their cooking utensils mainly from the leaves of trees, the household arrangements of the Veddahs are not such as to call for any serious preparation. When a young man falls in love with a maiden he first of all obtains her consent, then waits upon her parents, who only demand that he shall present their daughter with a piece of cloth. He assents, the cloth is produced, the lovers become husband and wife at once, and remain so. There is no religious ceremony, for of religion the Veddah has no idea. The only supernatural being of which he has any notion is a devil, which, by the way, is a very respectable sort of fiend indeed, and not at all so implacable and bad as our Western Beelzebub. The Yeddah’s demon is really only a misguided person, who is fond of mischief; and when, therefore, anybody falls ill, his friends get some jaggery or native sugar, a little piece of cocoa-nut, and any other luxury which circumstances permit of, and, placing it on a leaf, dance round it till they think the Satanic anger is appeased.”

An Important Question

Our contemporary, the Banner of Light, has an editorial article, “The New Departure,” which reviews Col. Olcott’s letter in the Tribune, and a communication wherein Col. Olcott says, “he has had direct conversation with members of the parent Eastern Lodge of the Brotherhood of Luxor,” and then remarks on closing:

Let those who would get at the truth on this subject ask the Colonel two questions:

First: Have you had “direct conversation" with any persons, visible and tangible to your senses, who, not being mediums, could by mere forms and words, communicate to others, and available by them, produce “all the most startling phenomena of Modern Spiritualism?"

Secondly: Have you known materialized forms of spirits to be made to appear simply by the use of cabalistic words or forms of invocation, in the absence of mediums?

We do not think it at all improbable that there are hum bugging spirits who try to fool certain aspirants to occult knowledge with the notion that there is such an art as magic. A spirit may possibly make a medium believe that by the use of certain words and forms the latter may invoke and control spirits. But that there is a science, apart from mediumship and accompanying phenomena, and depending merely on a knowledge of forms and words, by the use of which spirit aid may be had, has never yet proved, and we doubt if it ever will.

“Has never yet been proved" to the writer of that article, nor to many others perhaps. Neither has Spiritualism or Mesmerism been demonstrated to the masses. The simple declaration of the truth of this or any other science bears little or no weight. The student in Mesmerism knows that an operator, or spirit in the body, can, under certain conditions, control a subject, or spirit in the body. The investigator in Spiritualism, believes, that, under certain conditions, a spirit out of the body can control a spirit in the body. Is it illogical to conceive that there may be another branch to this occult science which teaches how the spirit in the body, may control the spirits out of the body?

Spiritualism, through its teachers, has taught that the medium and sitters should be in a “passive” condition— in other words, the circle negative, and the force controlling positive, in order to secure the best manifestations. And what has been the result? Simply to place the medium and sitters at the mercy of such spirits as might be present. The “mind” of the investigator, its “positive” or “receptive” condition, has been a fruitful subject for discussion. It is known that an exercise of the will, can destroy the power of a control. Can we not see in all this some proof of the possibility of the existence of a science “apart from mediumship and its accompanying phenomena, and depending merely on a knowledge of forms and words, by the use of which spirit aid may be had?

We think the science of Mesmerism, and what little is known of mediumship, are propositions that will warrant the inference of the existence of a system by which a spirit out of the body can be controlled by one in the body. Admit that the spirit world is governed by certain laws, and the possessor of a knowledge of those laws is enabled to control the spirits amenable to them. What is the power required? THE WILL. Evidence: that in Mesmerism, an outside force sometimes attempts to interfere with the operator and take control of the subject. The will of the operator holds the subject, and virtually the former has controlled or conquered, the opposing force, or spirit. Why does the will of an investigator interfere with spiritual manifestations?

That our thoughts will draw our spirit friends, is believed by the majority of Spiritualists. If such a simple exercise of the mind can have this effect, does it require a very fertile imagination to conceive of a circle composed of positive minds having power to command such as are wanted to be present, and then to control them to derise information concerning the unseen world and its hidden truths?

<... continues on page 3-142 >

Will, anyhow the Veddah demon ...

Editor's notes

  1. An Amiable Fiend by unknown author, London Spiritualist, No. 178, January 21, 1876, p. 36
  2. An Important Question by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 4, September 30, 1875, p. 42