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vol. 3, p. 172
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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<Untitled> (We know that unto mortals is not given)

We know that unto mortals is not given
The strength or knowledge that is yet in store
For us, ere yet we walk the streets of heaven,
And dream of heaven no more.

Spiritualism in Russia

Some of the Latest Experience on Scientist Examination of Mediumship

Dr. A. Butlerof, who is now in England, has published a long and circumstantial account in Psychic Studies of his latest experiences in the examination of mediumship. We quote some portions of his article, as tending to show the thorough manner in which the researches in St. Petersburg have been conducted. Dr. Butlerof gives the following reasons for their publication: —

“Soon after my friend Professor Nicholas Wagner had published his treatise ‘On Psycho-dynamic Phenomena’ in Psychic Studies (March, 1875), another much more detailed one appeared in one of the most influential and widely circulated Russian journals. He there records the observations which he has been enabled to make within the last few months, and which were not described in the paper in Psychic Studies. As I was present at all the observations made by Dr. Wagner, I will supply the missing link by giving a record of our latest experiences. * * *

“Professor Wagner mentions the sittings with the Parisian medium, Camille Bredif, which took place at the table; he also speaks of a gentleman who had formerly made experiments of another kind with Bredif, and having informed us of these, we resolved to attempt some of the same kind. * * *

“Some of these seances, of which we had a considerable num er, were very remarkable; I will describe one of them. The sitting took place at the house of M. Alexander Aksakof; the campany consisted, besides myself and the medium, of M. A. Aksakof, Madame Sophie Aksakof, Professor N. Wagner, Dr. D. and Fraulein Pribytkof. We began by sit ting round the table, when only the ordinary phenomena took place. After these preliminaries we proceeded to the second and more interesting part of the experiment. One of the doors was closed and fastened with the key, and as the wall is of stone, and great thickness, a sort of cabinet was formed by the recess, which was provided with a double curtain of a dark gray material. The two halves of the curtain were arranged with an aparture between; in the space between the curtain and the door stood a small table, near which there was just room for the medium’s chair. The medium was securely bound. I undertook to perform this operation myself lathe sight of all present. 1 used for the purpose a strip of white linen about half an inch wide. This was wound firmly round each wrist. Especial pains were taken to leave no possibility of slipping the hands out of the bonds, still less of putting them in again. Four or five knots were made to each bandage, and the ends were then cut off. The linen strip was next passed under the bandage on each wrist, the two hands were drawn together within an inch of e ch other, and after the strip was firmly knotted, one end of it was passed between the medium's knees under the chair to the brass castor of the right back leg or the chair. By slipping the band through the staple of the castor, it remained so securely and tightly fixed that there was very little play for the medium’s hands. From the castor the band went back to the right elbow of the medium, and after it bad been wound round the elbow-joint was past across the breast to the left arm, again wound round the arm and knotted, and then drawn through the castor of the left back leg of the chair and firmly tied—thence to the feet of the medium, where it was fastened round the ankles, and, lastly, the band was carried back to the hands and tied again in several knots. Thus securely bound, the medium was convened in his chair to ilia place behind the curtain. On the little table were a hand-bell, a few sheets of clean writing paper, and a pencil. Before the curtain, and close to it, a small square table was placed, around which the company was seated in a half circle. * * * The light stood in a corner of the room on a table, and was shaded by a piece of paper, so that the room was dimly lighted, but sufficiently to show all objects plainly.”

The usual phenomena followed. Raps, as of knuckles, on the door at the back of the cabinet, a small white hand at the opening, the hand-bell rung in time with the musical box which bad been set going, movement of the paper, sound of writing, then the paper was given out through the opening, more was asked for by means of raps with the pencil; when the papers were examined, the name Jeke was found written; on some only a part of the name. This word often occurs at Bredif’s seances. The hand touched or grasped the hands thrust inside the curtain. Once it seized Dr. Wagner’s hand, and attempted to withdraw a ring from his finger During this time the writer satisfied himself that it was not Bredif's hand by feeling the hands of the medium through the cloth of the curtain. Dr. Wagner also saw the medium’s hands through a little opening in the curtain, tightly bound as at first Afterwards the curtain was raised from within, and the 'medium and the tight bandages were distinctly seen. The hands, however, were not visible on this occasion. When the signal was given to break up the circle, a light was taken into the cabinet, and the medium was found tied as at the beginning. At other seances various modes of tying were invented. The medium’s hands were put into muslin bags, which were sown together and to the medium’s coat-sleeve. The linen band was wound three times round the root of the little finger of each hand, then round the wrists and throat, then knotted and passed in and out of the legs of the chair as before, being marked, for additional security, at various points with a lead pencil. On one occasion the bell and paper and pencil were placed on a stool behind the medium's back. All went on as before. A second bell was presented by the sitters outside, was grasped by the hand on the outer side of the curtain, and rung in the sight of all present. The position of the hand was that of a foot and a half above the medium’s head, and behind his back. The electrical tests used by Mr. Crookes with Mrs. Fay was also applied with equal success. On this occasion the medium was searched, and every article of his clothing examined, for the satisfaction of a sceptic, who was forced to admit that the manifestations did take place.

Dr. Butlerof sums up in these words: —

“This is an unvarnished account of that which we have witnessed. The phenomena were of that fugitive character which often — though by no means always — accompanies medial operations. But be the character of these appearances what it may, their reality is beyond all doubt. The recognition of their reality will very soon be the inevitable duty of every honorable observer, and finally of all humanity. This recognition will destroy many of the present prevailing views; life and science will have to come to terms with it. Our old notions about the essential nature of matter dissolve in the light of the actuality of these facts, and new ideas present themselves of the endless variety of degrees and forms of existence.”

<Untitled> (By each magnetic beam that gently warms)

By each magnetic beam that gently warms
The Universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen,
Shoots invisible virtue even to the soul.

Telegrams From the Stars

If the occasional extracts from the lectures of R. J. Linton, Esq., London, Eng., can be taken as a standard wherewith to form a judgment of the man, Mr. Linton, though rarely appearing in public as a Spiritualist, is nevertheless a most talented writer, and adduces many able arguments in support of the principles of Spiritualism. A correspondent of the London Medium and Daybreak, writes: —

Dear Mr. Editor, — Will you allow me, through the medium of your columns, to offer to Mr. Linton my best thanks for the extremely interesting and instructive lecture, to which I had the pleasure of listening last Wednesday evening, at Tarlington Hall, entitled, “Telegrams from the Stars.” It displays an amount of Scientific learning and knowledge of late discovery, together with deep and earnest thought and freedom from prejudice, rarely met with amongst the lecturers of the day.

Mr. Linton commenced by enlarging, in eloquent language, on the beauties of the material universe, showing how impossible it was to separate the Creator from the creation, God from His works, and combatted in strong terms the idea of regarding the various Bibles and sacred writings of the world as the only revelations of God to man, while the whole volume of nature, from the loftiest snow-clad mountain, to the tiniest grain of sand, from the vastest ocean to the smallest drop of water, lay open before, and was as much the revelation of the Deity as the most sacred of these sacred books.

Warming with his subject, the lecturer proceeded to give us some of the theories current amongst scientific men, as to the nature of the constitution of the sun, which, though ninety-two millions of miles distant, is the nearest star to our earth, the other fixed star being no less than twenty billions of miles away; and the lecturer endeavored to aid the mind in comprehending the vastness of this distance by illustrating the length of time a ray of light from one of these distant stars would take to reach our planet. The constitution of the sun, its black spots, its atmosphere, &c., and the various theories existing upon these matters, were graphically and most lucidly placed before the minds of the audience who could not fail to be struck with the marvels thus revealed to them.

The analysis of light, as manifested by the spectroscope, that wonderful instrument which has clone so much for scientific research, was next enlarged upon, and illustrated by the means of exceedingly interesting diagrams, the lecturer showing the modus operandi employed for the detection, by means of the spectroscope, of the different chemical substances of which the various planets and stars are undoubtedly composed.

After glancing at the various theories entertained by his <... continues on page 3-173 >

Editor's notes

  1. We know that unto mortals is not given by unknown author
  2. Spiritualism in Russia by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 8, October 28, 1875, p. 88
    Also in Scrapbook I, 69. – Archivist
  3. By each magnetic beam that gently warms by unknown author
  4. Telegrams From the Stars by unknown author (signed as Inquirendo), Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 10, November 11, 1875, p. 113