From Teopedia library
Jump to navigation Jump to search
vol. 3, p. 212
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


  • HPB note
  • HPB highlighted
  • HPB underlined
  • HPB crossed out
  • <Editors note>
  • <Archivist note>
  • Lost or unclear
  • Restored
<<     >>

Professor Wagner's article about Bred the Medium.

< Another Eminent Convert (continued from page 3-211) >

ditions, all this table-tipping and moving, and the same materializing of hands was more than suspicious. Couldn’t it be accounted for by the supposition that the so-called “medium,’’ had found out some secret means or way of mystifying and deceiving a certain class of the public, generally credulous and inclined to mysticism? But the idea of any trickery under such conditions as were applied to Home at the time of the spiritual manifestations that occured in his presence seemed to me inadmissable.

Home, who is related by his first wife to Prof. Boutleroff, dived in the house of the latter for several months, therefore the Professor as well as the rest of his household had the opportunity of watching him closely during his long stay in their family. It is next to impossible that some one should not have detected in the lapse of that time preparations of some kind or other; and the phenomena occuring at his seances, required not only a clever sleight of hand, but also machinery more or less complicated and therefore very difficult to conceal.

From my personal acquaintance with Home and what I learned about him from Prof. Boutleroff, 1 discovered that, first of all, he is a very sickly and nervous man, apt to easily fall into somnambulism, a man constantly disposed to fits of every description, for the explanation of which our medical knowledge is as yet to limited and undeveloped. During my stay In St. Petersburg, I was present at two of his seances. At one of them nothing occurred whatever. We got some slight motions of the table, some raps, feeble and hardly perceptible and thoroughly insignificant. We sat for about one hour and a half around the table, and parted very much disgusted at the failure. Moreover Home had evidently reckoned on the success of that seance. It had been advertised beforehand, and miscellaneous mystical preparations had been attended to in its behalf. During the evening a lady had been constantly in the adjoining room, playing, on the piano, Scotch melodies. That seance proved to me clearly one thing: that Home is unable to intro or direct the spiritual manifestations, and that they are not subject to his caprice or his power.

The other seance was successful enough. Like the first one, it began and ended at a card table, unfolded in all its width and covered with a fine woolen table cover. Two lighted wax candles were placed upon it, and one bell and a accordeon. Round the table, besides Home and myself, sat five other persons, three of whom were mv personal, dear friends and brother professors; one of the other two, placed at the left hand side of Home, was an old general, a Spiritualist of many years’ standing. I found myself on Home’s right hand. About ten or fifteen minutes after we took our places, we noticed slight oscillatory movements of the table, and then began the tippings. The table inclined one moment to one side then to the other, and its motions evidently were not produced by Home. His hands were slightly touching the cloth; he took them off very often, sometimes joining the palms together, and went on with his conversation paying them very little attention. Twice his armchair was pushed away with himself sitting in it, and each time he very quietly brought it back, remarking only, “that they had pushed him.” The longer we sat the stronger became these manifestations, exhibiting at the same time an evident periodicity. They seemed to flow in waves, tidelike, and reaching their maximum came to a dead calm. Tippings, weak and hardly perceptible at first, audible only to Home and the initiated ones, became fully defined. Those raps seemed deafened, as if coming from a low, hollow place, but nevertheless, produced undoubtedly from certain places on the table and walls, the floor, and from under our feet. Once, as the table very strongly and in succession reclined on each of the four sides, every one of its motions was accompanied by a very loud, sharp rap, just as if someone had struck it with all his power with the fist from underneath, and right in the centre. Each time these successive raps took place, one of our circle, who had been Investigating Spiritualism constantly, inquired, if the spirits wanted the alphabet; in answer to which we heard three raps, and the Spiritualist began to call the French alphabet slowly and systematically. Sometimes a letter would be indicated by a rap, and then it was put down on paper; but no word was formed at all. I confess here that this process of conversing with a table impressed me with a very disagreeable feeling; I had before that heard of suchlike, mysterious, childish communications with spirits, and I felt ashamed to find myself participating in some degree, in such a superstitious man oeuvre as that. I was glad that it resulted in a failure, but at the same time, I could net help thinking that it might have proved successful, and that in consequence of some extraordinary combination, the letters that had been pointed out might have foamed some word to the intense pleasure of the Spiritualists present.

Soon after this unsuccessful table-talking, the cloth on the spot nearest to Home, began to stretch out as if some one were pulling it down. After that, between Home’s left hand and mine, but nearer to me, there appeared in the cloth a slight swelling, a sort of protuberance, that commenced moving about from one spot to another; I rapidly covered it with my hand, and the protuberance disappeared. It appeared very soon again, nearly in the same spot, still nearer to me, and this time the shape of it was more clearly defined. It looked like a doubled fist or a folded-up hand. I grasped it again with my own hand, and it disappeared again as rapidly as before. Home then took the accordeon off the table lowered it with the keys down, and held it under the table, pressing it to the under side, near to where the general sat. The instrument began to move, swinging itself powerfully from side to side. A moment after Home removed his hand from it, and the accord eon remained suspended in space, as if it laid upon the air.

‘‘Monsieur le general,” said Home, addressing the old general, “please to look under the table; the accordeon is held by some one.”

The general bent himself down, looked, and passed his hand several times between the floor and tbc accordeon. “There’s no one there,” answered he.

After several minutes of suspension it fell down. Home picked it up. Then we saw that the board with the keys on it had become unglued and brokened off.

“All right! I see now why it could not play,” remarked Home.

But for all that, how could the accordeon remain suspended in the air and with an unglued key board to it in the bargain.

After all the phenomena I witnessed, I carried out one clear, undeniable conviction; the motions of the table and the raps do exist and are a fact. These phenomena are purely real; objective, and most certainly belong on the one hand to the realm of physics, and on the other—to psychology. But it seems to me there is another side to them in this question.

With the peculiar influence which must affect and overpower all the persons present, the medium especially included, — for he represents in this circle something like a tuning- fork among instruments,—those phenomena become gradually subjective, invisibly bordering upon, and ebbing into hallucination, till they become the results of a purely psychological state. Thus, the reason why the element of mysticism assumes such a prominent part in those manifestations, and the strange explanations of the phenomena given, by fervent Spiritualists are easily accounted for.

While the second seance was taking place, Home had asked several times of the persons present, if they did not see something white standing between him and the table. But this something was visible to Home alone, or I may sooner say—existed only in his own imagination. Therefore there would have been nothing very' extraordinary if every one of us had given way to this peculiar, mysterious, nervous state of mind, seeing as well as himself that “something white,” which hallucination developing and strengthening, under such an unwholesome mental disposition should compel us to see gradually assuming a human shape. The same theory, I thought, can be easily applied to those seemingly objective touches felt by some persons in the circle. I felt them myself on the knee, but this touch was so slight and so insignificant, that I did not hesitate for a moment at that time to take it for something subjective. It seemed to me then that every series of spiritual seances, as a rule, began by objective phenomena, perfectly real, manifested more or less distinctly by raps and table-moving; after which, when on the one hand the Spiritualists were pretty well tired out with a long sitting, and, on the other, their nervous systems began to feel over <... continues on page 3-213 >