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Oct 24, 2005 06:48 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck





[THEOSOPHIST Vol. III. Nos. 1, 6 and 12, October, 1881, March and September,
Modern Panarion, p. 458 ….]

Part III.


    Nor have we ever disputed that there was a state, out of which the
spiritualist’s conceptions of the Summer Land have no doubt arisen, in which
the spirits of those who have passed away receive the reward of their
deserts. To this state, known to Tibetan occultists as the Devachan, we
especially alluded in that first paper when we said, “nor during the
temporary period of its enjoyment in its newly-evolved Ego-hood of the
fruits of its good deeds.”

    Therefore, we are far from desiring to contest a correspondent’s
assertion that by magnetic action he has succeeded in placing some of the
incorporeal principles of certain sensitives en rapport, if not, as he says,
with the world of spirit—a very large world indeed—at any rate with certain
spiritual entities.

    It is quite certain that in the case of pure sensitives this can be
accomplished, but what we contend is that the information thus obtained will
never be reliable. 

For this there are several reasons. In the first place the principles that
cognize in such a case are different from those that give outward expression
to the matters cognized, and in the case of no untrained seer can the
transfer of the impressions from the spiritual faculties which record, to
the more physical faculties which publish, be perfectly effected. Even
supposing both sensitive and magnetizer to be absolutely free from all
preconceived ideas about, or expectations in regard to, the subjects
investigated, still in the mere transfer of the observations from one to the
other class of faculties, mistakes and misconceptions must occur.

    But further, it is not too much to say that it is quite impossible for
the spiritual faculties of any untrained seer even to record correctly in
the first instance. Even our physical powers of observation require careful
training before they will serve us faithfully. See how utterly unable young
children are, as a rule, to judge distances; and just as the physical
faculties are untrained in the child, so are the spiritual faculties
untrained in the magnetic sensitive. No doubt in the course of years, if
their health and circumstances permit their constantly exploring [ 459 ] the
unseen world, even such untrained sensitives may acquire for themselves a
certain amount of experience and training, and become capable of
comparatively accurate observation; but such sensitives have been few, and
even the very best have fallen far short of accuracy. So that under the most
exceptionally favourable conditions you have first an imperfect record; and,
second, a more or less erroneous presentation of that imperfect record.

    But in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, either or both sensitive and
magnetizer have well-defined preconceptions of what they think ought to be
the case, and then, however honest and conscientious both may be, these
preconceptions will more or less colour the evidence given. 

Indeed, so certainly is this the case that, broadly speaking, there is twice
the probability of error in the case of a magnetized sensitive to what there
is in the case of a seer who, without the intervention of a magnetizer, can
by “hypnotism” of one kind or another, unaided, place himself en rapport
with spiritual entities. Thus a Swedenborg would be much less likely to err
than the best sensitive requiring the intervention of a magnetizer to awaken
the super-sensuous faculties.

    But there is yet another source of error. Even the best and purest
sensitive can only be placed en rapport with a particular spiritual entity,
and can only know, see and feel what that particular entity knows, sees and

Now no spiritual entity in Devachan, or while hibernating prior to passing
out of this earth’s attraction, is in a position to generalize; and it is,
broadly speaking, only with such that a sensitive can be placed en rapport. 

It lives in a paradise or dream of its own creating, and it is utterly
unable to give any idea of how others are faring. 

Each individual spirit in Devachan dreams its own dream, lives in its own
Summer Land (but it is a state, not a land), surrounded by all the people
and things it loves and longs for. But these are ideal, and the very people
by whom it believes itself surrounded may be each dreaming his own dream in
his own ideal paradise; 

or some of them may be still on earth or even passing through the
remorseless wheels of annihilation. And through the veils that surround each
spirit’s dream of felicity there is no peeping down to earth, a glimpse of
which would necessarily mingle some bitterness with the cup of happiness;
nor is there any conscious communication with the flying souls that come, as
it were, to learn where the spirits are, what they are doing, and what they
think, feel and see. [ 460 ]

What, then, is being en rapport? 

It is simply an identity of molecular vibration between the astral part of
the incarnated sensitive and the astral part of the disincarnate
personality. The spirit of the sensitive gets “odylized,” so to speak, by
the aura of the spirit, whether the latter be hibernating in the earthly
region or dreaming in the Devachan; identity of molecular vibration is
established, and for a brief space the sensitive becomes the departed
personality and writes in its handwriting, uses its language and thinks its
thoughts. At such times sensitives may believe that those with whom they are
for the moment en rapport descend to earth and communicate with them,
whereas, in reality, it is merely their own spirits, which, being correctly
attuned to those others, are for the time blended with them.

    Many of the subjective spiritual communications are genuine, where the
sensitive is pure-minded; but they only reflect in each case the ideas of a
single spirit, unable to see beyond the limits of its own mental chrysalis
or ideal paradise; further, it is impossible for the un initiated sensitive
to observe and record altogether correctly what it does see and hear during
its amalgamation; it is equally impossible for the sensitive to transfer
intact the impressions recorded by the super-sensuous faculties to the
senses through which alone they can be communicated to the world, and such
communications will be still further vitiated by any preexisting conceptions
or beliefs inhering in the minds of either sensitive or magnetizer or both.

    But our critic says that, having compared the descriptions of things
spiritual given to him by different sensitives when in trance, he found a
general harmony, “each and all describing worlds or spheres more beautiful
than this, peopled by forms in human shape, exhibiting a higher average
intelligence.” But what else could he expect, lie a pure-minded, educated
European of the present day, dealing also with pure, more or less educated
sensitives? If he had tried a native Australian sensitive and had studiously
kept his own mind passive, he would have heard a very different story. Nay,
though a certain skeleton of truth—but partial truth—runs through all
genuine communications, he will find the widest discrepancies in details
between the so-called facts elicited by himself and those elicited by
equally good observers with equally pure mediums in France, Germany and

    It is unnecessary, however, to press this point further now; all we
desire for the moment to make clear is that while we in no way dispute the
genuineness of this class of communications, for the above reasons [ 461 ]
we know them to be necessarily unreliable, necessarily more or less
incorrect and inaccurate.

AUTOMATIC HANDWRITING [ Ouija Board ?] [ see also
above ]

    And now as to automatic handwriting of a high class, we would remark
that it may possibly be that there is really a distinct spiritual entity
impressing the writer’s mind. In other words, there may, for all we know,be
some spirit with whom his spiritual nature becomes habitually, for the time,
thoroughly harmonized, and whose thoughts, language, etc., become his for
the time, the result being that this spirit seems to communicate with him. 

All we said before was that a similar explanation to that we had offered of
the facts of a certain case would in all probability meet a certain
correspondent’s case. But if he feels confident that this explanation does
not fit his case, then it is possible, though by no means probable, that he
habitually passes into a state of rapper! with a genuine spirit, and, for
the time, is assimilated therewith, thinking, to a great extent, if not
entirely, the thoughts that spirit would think, and writing in its

    But even so, it should not be thought that such a spirit is consciously
communicating with the medium, or knows in any way, anything of him or any
other person or thing on earth. It is simply that, the rapport established,
he becomes for the nonce assimilated with that other personality, and
thinks, speaks and writes as it would have done on earth.


    As for the figure of the fine, intelligent and benevolent-lookingman,
seen repeatedly by the seers and seeresses, this may well be a real astral
picture of the earth-life form of that very spirit, drawn into the aura of
our correspondent by the synchronism of his and that spirit’s nature.

    Many other explanations are possible; the variety of the causes of
phenomena is great, and one need be an adept and actually look into and
examine what transpires in order to be able to explain in each case what
really underlies it; but this much is certain, that no good benevolent
person who passed away upwards of a century ago can possibly be visiting
here on earth and advising and comforting a medium. 

The molecules of his astral nature may from time to time vibrate in perfect
unison with those of the spirit of some such a person now in Devachan, and
the result may be that he appears to be in communication with that spirit
and to be advised by him, and clairvoyants may see in the astral light a
picture of the earth-life form of that spirit, but, so far as we have as yet
been instructed, this is the nearest approach to the ordinary spiritualistic
hypothesis that is possible.  [ 462 ]

    No doubt had a “guide,” to which a certain correspondent refers, not
departed from this earth so very long ago, another explanation, to which we
will refer later, more in consonance with spiritualistic views, would have
been possible, though extremely improbable.

    To take up again another point, even despite their unobjectionable
character, teachings may come from mere reliquiæ of men or personalities not
sufficiently spiritual for further progress. 

In our first “Fragment” we distinctly said, “All elementaries are by no
means actively wicked all round . . . when, speaking through a still pure
medium the better and less degraded side of their nature comes out, and it
is quite possible for elementaries to have a perfect intellectual knowledge
and appreciation of virtue and purity, and enlightened conceptions of truth,
and yet be innately vicious in their tendencies.”

    It is perfectly possible that the admirable teachings referred toby a
critic may have come from a high class, though still lost personality, too
intellectual to show in its true colours before him and his friend, and yet
capable of playing a very different part in a less pure circle.

    But it is far more likely that the medium’s spirit really came en
rapport with some spiritual entity in Devachan, the thoughts, knowledge and
sentiments of which formed the substance, while the medium’s own personality
and preexisting ideas more or less governed the form of the communication. 

We attach no special importance to the particular form of words in which the
message was given. This may be the medium’s share of the communication, when
for the moment he identifies his spiritual nature with that of the spiritual


    But, as a broad rule, such appearances only take place within a few
minutes after, or shortly before, the physical death. Of course we mean the
real death; the last portion of the frame that dies is the brain—which is
often alive and thronged with images long after, or, at any rate, for many
hours and days after life has been pronounced to be extinct. 

It is true that the period intervening between death and the entry into the
gestation state, varies in the case of persons dying a natural death, from a
few hours to a few years, but it is quite abnormal for the spirit to appear
during this period, except within a very short period after death. 


Putting aside the case of adepts and those trained by them to that end, the
Ego within a few moments after death, sinks into a state of unconsciousness
from which it does not recover until the struggle between the higher and
lower nature has been fought out; and there remains inside the sphere of the
earth’s attraction—Kâma Loka, [ 463 ] the Region of Desire—only theshell,
either (in the rarer case of personalities doomed to annihilation) a two and
a half principle shell, or (in the case in which the higher principles have
triumphed, and have passed on, taking with them the better portions of the
fifth [Higher-Manas] principle a one and a half principle shell, soon to

    Even when a “spirit” appears “a few days after death,” itis really an
unconscious appearance. 

The spirit sunk in its post-mortem trance (of course, for all its
comparative ethereality and non-corporeality, a space-occupying and material
entity) is borne about by magnetic currents, swayed here and there like dead
leaves whirling in the bosom of a stream. Thus carried, it may pass within
the range of vision of some seer, or its reflection in the astral light may
be caught by the inner eye of a clairvoyant. 

The spirit itself will have no more consciousness of such an appearance than
a person passing through a room in which, unknown to him, there happens to
be a mirror, is of having cast a reflection therein. Usually the position
and aspect of the forms indicate unmistakably the unconsciousness of the
spirit, but this is not invariable; the mental activity of the spirit may
revive in a succession of dreams, restoring a subjective consciousness,
while objective unconsciousness still prevails, and in such cases the form
may assume a conscious and animated, or even transfigured appearance; all
depends on the character and intensity of the dreams, and these again depend
upon the degree of the spirituality and purity of the deceased.

    It is not at all necessary (nor indeed, is it possible under our present
hypothesis) that any real conscious communication should pass between the
dormant spirit and the seer. It is sufficient for the latter to come into
direct rapport with the spirit or its astral image, to think precisely what
the spirit, if still conscious and in earth-life, would have thought.

    In the case of communication through magnetic sensitives, the
magnetizer, tenderly attached to the deceased, by the exertion of his
magnetic power unconsciously places the sensitive en rapport with the spirit
of the deceased with which for the time the spirit of the sensitive is more
or less perfectly identified, leading to an idea of seeing the deceased, as
he was wont to appear when on earth, and receiving from him messages or
indications, of which the sensitive really became cognizant when the two
spirits were for the moment blended.


under the same conditions, are less doubtful in character, and there are
three ways of explaining them:

    Firstly: the mesmeric action of the magnetizer places the sensitive’s [
464 ] spirit en rapport with that of his dearly-loved deceased friend. Then,
what! for the time the identity of the two is established, the nature of the
deceased taken on by the sensitive, being much more spiritual and powerful
than the sensitive’s own, and his physical constitution being of such a
nature as to admit such changes, the body of the subject begins at once to
exhibit an analogous change, corresponding to the change undergone by his
spiritual nature in consequence of the amalgamation.

    Secondly: the transfiguration may be due to the intensity and clearness
of the deceased friend’s face in the operator’s thought. That face being so
strongly impressed on his memory, it is but natural that his memory, owing
to its intensified activity during such séances, should be throwing off an
unusual amount of energy, and solidifying, so to say, the familiar image on
the etheric waves of his aura. Thus, unknown to himself, he may rouse it up
into sympathetic action which, transforming the image from a subjective into
an objective picture, finally causes it to move on, guided by the current of
attraction, until it settles upon, and so is found reflected in the medium’s
face. The images we find in the endless galleries of space, nailed on to the
indestructible walls of Akâsha, are but lifeless and empty masks after all,
the pictorial records of our thoughts, words, and deeds. In a case recently
referred to by a correspondent, the invisible reality in the magnetizer’s
aura threw an objective adumbration on the plastic features of his
sensitive, and the phenomenon was produced.

    Thirdly: thought, memory and will are the energies of the brain, and,
like all other forces of nature—to use the language of modern science—have
two general forms, the potential and the kinetic form of energy. Potential
thought clairvoyantly discerns and chooses its subject in the astral light;
the will becomes the motor power that causes it to move, that directs and
guides it whithersoever it likes, and it is thus that the adept produces his
occult phenomena, whether of a physical or spiritual character. 

But the latter can also occur without any intervention of an intelligent
will. The passive condition of the medium leaves him an easy prey to the
pranks of the elementaries, as well as to those semi-intelligent elemental
beings ever basking and masquerading in the sidereal light, and such a
phenomenon may as easily occur of itself, simply owing to surrounding
favourable conditions. 

The sidereal image of a person we think of will remain pale and quiescent in
its indelible impression on the ether, until its atoms [ 465 ] are propelled
into action by the strong magnetic attraction which emanates from the
molecular tissues of the medium, saturated as they are with the mesmerizer’s
thought full of the image. Hence the phenomenon of transfiguration.

    These transfigurations are rare, but we have known of a good many
instances, and some very remarkable ones will be found recorded in Colonel
Olcott’s work, entitled People from the Other World.


To Part IV

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