< Spirit Teachings (continued from page 3-165) >
[I inquired the cause of death.]
Weakness of the heart, increased by violent dancing. She was but a thoughtless girl, though of a gentle and loving disposition.
[I asked what house and where?]
We cannot say. She will probably be able to say for herself.
[Other subjects were then written about, and no more was said of this. In the afternoon of the same day a brief communication was made. Though I resisted the impression to write, being busy and not at home, I was compelled to allow the message to be given.]
We have ascertained that it was at the house of one Doctor Baker that Lottie departed. The day was the fifth of December. We are not able to tell you more; but enough has been said.
[The verification of this statement was as unexpected as was the message itself. We had decided that no means of verification was open; and the matter passed from our minds. Sometime after, Dr. S— — had a friend at his house who was fond of old books. We three were talking in a room in which there were a number of books rarely used, arranged in shelves extending from floor to ceiling. Dr. S— —’s friend, wham I will call Mr. A— —, mounted a chair to get at the topmost row, which teas composed entirely of volumes of the Annual Register. He took one down amid a cloud of dust, and commented on it as a valuable record of events from year to year. Almost anything, he said, could be found in it. As he said this the idea flashed into my mind at once most vividly that there was the place to verify the information that had been given about this death. It was one of these utterly unaccountable impressions, or rather communications, with which those who commune with spirits are familiar. It was as if a voice spoke to my inner sense. I hunted out the volume for 1773, and there I found among the notable deaths a record of this occurrence, which had apparently made a sensation, as occurring at a festivity in a fashionable house. The volume was thickly covered with dust, and had lain undisturbed in its place since it had been put there some five years before. 1 remember the books being arranged, and they had never been disturbed since; nor, but for Mr. A— —’s antiquarian tastes, would it ever have occurred to any of us to pull them down.]
The medium through whom these Spirit Teachings are given, says: — u I may add in this connexion that on March 29th, 1874, a communication was written out in my book, of which at first I could make nothing. The handwriting was like none I had seen before, very shaky and tremulous, like that of an extremely old and feeble person. Though a name was apparently signed I could not read it at all until it was deciphered for me by the friend who usually writes. The message was from a very old woman, of whom I had never before heard, who passed away at upwards of 90 years of age at a house not far from the place where our circle meets. For obvious reasons I am unable to print the name and address. I have neither authority nor wish to seek it from friends still living. But the name, place of residence, both in earlier years and at the time of death, age, and date of decease, were given with exact accuracy. The remarkable fact, for which (apparently) the message was given, was that the time of departure from earth was in the month of December, 1872, since which time, as was said, ‘the spirit being full of years in its earth-life had rested from its earthly toil.’ On awaking it had been attracted to its old home, and thence to the circle in the immediate neighbourhood.
“I believe that in this, as in all cases of identity, the information was brought at the instance of Imperator, and for the definite purpose of supplying to me evidence which I very much desired of spirit-identity, or rather of individuality perpetuated after bodily death. The cases were apparently selected according to a plan, and I have never been able to procure evidence suggested by myself, or to interfere successfully with an apparently pre-arranged plan.”
Dalston Association of Inquirers Into Spiritualism.—The general meeting being fixed for Thursday evening next, the ordinary weekly seance on Tuesday will therefore not be held.
Thoughts of the Mediumship of Indian Fakirs*
Jacolliot’s assertions on this subject must appear to outsiders as incredible, fantastic, and impossible as anything that has been said and written about ancient and modern magicians, Christian ascetics and mystics, from the earliest centuries down to the present time. The readers of Psychic Studies are, I assume, already somewhat conversant with psychological phenomena, partly from historical sources, and partly from a certain amount of what may be called empirical knowledge; I have therefore felt no hesitation in placing before them Jacolliot’s account of his Indian experiences. † It may be—is, indeed—highly probable that he has painted with somewhat lively colours, and that he has artificially grouped his facts in such a manner as to force conviction; that is to say, he may have arranged them in a certain progressive order, and not exactly as they occurred. But on examining the facts separately, we find them to agree in essential points with other mystic phenomena of various times and nations (allowance being made for the character of the people, their natural surroundings, and the scene of enactment), and I think they cannot be considered as more or less wonderful than those, especially than the latest experiences of Spiritualists. This agreement in the essential nature of things puts Jacolliot’s facts on as credible a footing as many of the others named, and we find ourselves with regard to them face to face with the vexed question as to whether they are produced by magical forces in living men, or by unseen beings called spirits, who make use of the organisms of particular persons, called mediums, to produce certain effects. The contents of the foregoing pages prove that the Indians have held the latter opinion from the earliest ages, and that they consider their pitris, or spirits of their ancestors, to be the motive power. If they are right, we must conclude that these spirits have powers which do not come under the ordinary physical laws of nature, and that for the demonstration of the same they attach themselves to living persons, not so much for any benefit that will accrue to them, as to give proof of their own existence, and to bring their capabilities to some extent under the cognisance of men. But so far as the fakirs, sanyassis, nirvanys, and others are concerned, it is scarcely to be doubted that many who desire it cannot succeed in developing the magical power in themselves, therefore yield to the temptation to simulate, and to produce deceptive appearances, whereby they sink from magicians to conjurors. This would naturally increase, as in the case of Egyptian, Zend, and other worship, as Brahmanism degenerated, and of which very little now remains. Just so in the latter days of the Roman Republic, the augurs smiled on meeting one another, and when the Romans came to Egypt, the priests were only useful as masters of the ancient ceremonies.
The experience of all ages goes to prove that the practice of these things is attended with danger to the living, and can only occur at the cost of their fitness for their present stage of existence. In my Mystic Phenomena, vol. i., p. 92, it is mentioned, for instance, how dangerous it is to induce visionary or clairvoyant power by means of incense-burning, cases of which were cited, and the influence of which Jacolliot has himself witnessed. How much more deleterious are those continuous ascetic practices which lead in some to stigmatisations and general exhaustion of the system! If there is any comfort in such sacrifice, it can only consist in the fact that by this means revelations of the inner nature of man are obtained which cannot be procured in any other way; and if the opinion be correct that they are due to the operation or co-operation of those no longer in this earthly life, an empirical proof of personal continuity is gained, which is incalculably more valuable than any speculation. And from this point of view the mystics of all ages, though they may have failed to attain earthly success and even earthly happiness, have yet not lived and denied themselves in vain, but have performed, indirectly, a great service to mankind. This seems to me to be the point of view from which they should be honoured, and not from the supposed satisfaction rendered to the Deity by those who devote <... continues on page 3-167 >