In Chapter 4 we presented typical examples of the sort of phenomena we are including under the heading of psychism. Psychism, as we are using the word, means a use of the psyche, or mortal soul, and of the substances, denizens, and forces of the psychic realms, to produce sensible results in both the physical and psychic worlds. This means they are perceptible by our physical senses or are sensed in our feelings, even our personal thoughts, or by our inner perceptions as in clairvoyance and clairaudience.
This range of phenomena is not of the usual spiritualistic kind because it does not necessarily involve a medium as such. It does require an operator, usually but not always one who knows what he is doing and how to do it.
For instance the Shaman in the Mongolian desert with his talking stone talisman did not really know what he was doing. His inner vehicles were freed from his physical body and were able to travel to a distant place, to find and identify a particular person unknown to him beforehand, and to become aware of what was going on. He was able to read out a letter phonetically in an unknown language at dictation speed and, further, to render the old lady unconscious and cause her Mayavi-rupa, her thought body, to appear in the yourta. For us, normally completely ignorant of these things, they constitute quite remarkable feats. Yet Mme. Blavatsky anticipated what would happen and ordered the djinn to do her bidding. She was the master, and it, the Shaman's soul, for all its remarkable powers, was her slave.
Sometimes, however, it would seem the operator is also mediumistic. Such appears to be the case with the Uri Geller type phenomena. Mediumistic here again means something different from the abilities of the normal medium. He produces phenomena of a distinct class, for example, his bending of items of cutlery but, as with the normal medium, without knowing how. He does however set out to make them bend. He is determining the area of effect.
For example, he does not, although he might, have an astral bell ring at the same or another time. That has not entered his head, so he is not operating in that area of psychic phenomena. The interesting thing in cases of this kind of psychic occurrence is that others, seemingly most often young people, seeing it done, directly or on television, suddenly know they can also do it - and they can and do! This means they have the corresponding mediumistic abilities. As we shall see when we come to explanations, they obviously have some affinity for and control over a certain class of elemental.
Directly and indirectly, sufficient information about the inner worlds, about their substances and forces about their denizens, the elementals and elementaries, not to mention the adepts, has been given to enable us to give some reasonable explanations of some of the more unusual and remarkable things that happen.
As we said at the beginning, there is a worldwide ancient tradition of the strange, the unusual, and the so called supernatural. Some examples of which were given in Chapter 4. We should not and do not accept all the stories we hear as necessarily true but there is too much evidence of all grades of trustworthiness for us to dismiss them without at least a glance and a thought.
It is very important to note, however, that whereas we have been told much about Nature and her ways - and even what to do to acquire the knowledge of these ways for ourselves - we are never told in plain terms in any literature, how to use that knowledge. The way to such ability is in and through ourselves, but obviously considerable character attainments are a sine qua non. Not many of us are prepared to tread the arduous path of self-discipline to such knowledge and ability but, as we have seen, some have done it and have acquired both knowledge and power beyond what is commonly deemed possible. Real wisdom is the only safeguard against the abuse of power. The great initiates have learned the secrets of Nature, developed their own innate powers, and by knowing Nature’s laws, can control her processes. It is said, however, that they always do this by working along with her, in harmony, never against her. These powers are latent in us all. The ability fully to use them is a limit of human attainment. Between that final state and the level of the ordinary man there are interim stages of development and the unfoldment of lesser degrees of power.
For example, we have already mentioned Edgar Cayce, a man who had the ability to go into a self-induced trance and, while in that state, to diagnose accurately and in modern medical terms,
without any medical training at all, the ailments of patients brought to him. There are recorded tens of thousands of case histories which he dealt with in this way, and most of them were seemingly successful. A number of books have been written about him.
It is not difficult to surmise that when in his trance state something of his Egoic faculty was operating. On a number of occasions, when looking for the cause, not just the deep symptoms of disease in a patient, he would see what seemed to be a past life of the patient. In this he could often see what appeared to be the cause of a malady suffered in this present life. It is interesting to note that the personality, Edgar Cayce, was unconscious of what was coming through him.
In the clairvoyant's description of what she saw when the "spirit" George Dix, of the Eddy homestead happening, was making the realistic noises to accompany the spirit rendering of the "Storm at Sea," we get a clue as to how psychokinetic phenomena can be produced. The clairvoyant said, "It seemed as if he forced two masses of electricity together, handling the subtle agent as if it were a solid substance."
We are told that there are a number of forces playing in the astral light. It is these, we are told, that an Adept can bring to "a focus as with a burning glass." To understand the rationale of the "handling of the subtle agent" as by Dix, we have to become aware of what precisely he then was. George Dix's Egoic spirit would then have been in its own sphere of being, and about its own business. The apparition might have been the mortal psychic remains of George Dix, the psychic corpse or "shell." He had only just been dead long enough for it to have disintegrated (steamships only started running in the early nineteenth century). In other words, his Kama-rupic "shell" might still have existed. On the other hand, George Dix could have been, as H.P.B. said later of her uncle, a "living" portrait in the Astral Light, endowed with the personal knowledge and traits of George Dix, drawing its present apparent life from Horatio, the medium, or the audience, or even from elementals. In either case, elemental life but no Egoic direction would be involved in those phenomena.
Now let us remember what the elementals are. They are the soul, the particular life, of the elements, irresponsible but susceptible of control by a superior intelligence. The intelligence in this case could have come from the medium or the audience or even a single
member of it. The enlivened astral portrait of George Dix would have provided the mode of expression for these thoughts.
All the other "apports," the materialization of stones, flowers, jewels, shawls, would be the result of the activity of elementals. The elementals are the necessary agents in all magical operations with a physical end result. This is an example of our possibly knowing the theory behind phenomena but of our not being able to produce it ourselves because we do not know how to make the elementals subject to our will. The elementals, however, are the common agency behind the "tricks" of the yogis and fakirs in the East. The tremendously increased rate of growth of plants, fire-walking and other such wonders must all be done with the cooperation of the elementals.
In 1970 two Americans, Ostrander and Schroeder, brought out a book, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain (Prentice Hall), which provoked some interest. Many people did not know what to make of it. It described in considerable detail some strange happenings and strange people, mostly in the Iron Curtain countries. Many cases of psychic phenomena and a number of people with unusual gifts were reported on. Not all of these were recent but a number of them were occurring or had just occurred at that time. There were cases of telepathy, hypnotism at a distance, what purported to be the photographing of the life aura around living things, psychokinesis in which a woman moved things by willing them to move. A phenomenon which they called reincarnation was also investigated. This was said to be the spirits of the dead reincarnating in or taking over living people, willing and wanting to be, so that they evinced not only the personal characteristic of the deceased’s spirits but became possessed of their knowledge and particular skills. For example, they became proficient in music or mathematics to a high degree, if the spirit had been a genius in either of these subjects. As examples of other types of phenomena, there was a case of a witch who could predict events; there was a man who could "see" things with his eyes bandaged, another who penetrated the Kremlin by willing the guards not to see him or to think him someone else. Many other such things were described.
Among the range of phenomena which we are including in psychism there is, for example, the ability to see into sealed envelopes. When the rationale of clairvoyance is understood, this becomes at least feasible. There are many stories of people who
could do this, including Mme. Blavatsky herself. Similarly, there are people who, given a piece of clothing or a trinket, can "see" the owner, describe him or her, his environment and so on. This ability extends to reading back into history, looking into the "experience" of a castle or a stone on the beach; the faculty is called psychometry.
We quote again from Isis Unveiled (Vol. I, p. 182 et seq):
The existence of this faculty was first experimentally demonstrated in 1841. It has since been verified by a thousand psychometers in different parts of the world. It proves that every occurrence in nature - no matter how minute or unimportant - leaves its indelible impress upon physical nature; and, as there has been an appreciable molecular disturbance, the only inference possible is that these images have been produced by that invisible, universal force-Ether, or astral light.
There follows a description of the psychometric powers of the wife of a professor of geology, who possessed the faculty in marked degree.
A fragment of Cicero's house, at Tusculum, enabled her to describe, without the slightest intimation as to the nature of the object placed on her forehead, not only the great orator's surroundings but also the previous owner of the building, Cornelius Sulla Felix. ...A fragment of marble from the ancient Christian Church of Smyrna, brought before her its congregation and officiating priests. Specimens from Nineveh, China, Jerusalem, Greece, Ararat and other places all over the world brought up scenes in the life of various personages, whose ashes had been scattered thousands of years ago. In many cases Profs. Denton verified the statements by reference to historical records. More than this, a bit of the skeleton, or a fragment of the tooth of some antediluvian animal, caused the seeress to perceive the creature as it was when alive, and even live for a few brief moments its life, and experience its sensations. ...
The above passage is from The Soul of Things. by a Profs. Denton.
It appears to us the height of impossibility to imagine that scenes in ancient Thebes, or in some temple of prehistoric times should be photographed only upon the substance of certain atoms. The images of the events are imbedded in that all-permeating, universal, and ever-retaining medium, which the philosophers call the "Soul of the World" and Mr. Denton "The Soul of Things." The psychometer, by applying the fragment of a substance to his forehead, brings his inner-self into relations with the inner soul of the object he handles.
The passage in Isis Unveiled (Vol. I, p. 184) then goes on to say that the visions seen by a natural psychometer come and go with such rapidity as to cause confusion, unless the psychometer can control them with a trained will, or unless he is operating under the control of a mesmerizer. The seer, further, can see not only the past but also the future, incredible as this may seem. To quote again:
And to those who might object to the possibility of perceiving that which "yet is not," we may put the question: Why is it more impossible to see that which will be, than to bring back to sight that which is gone and is no more? According to kabalistic doctrine the future exists in the astral light in embryo, as the present existed in embryo in the past. While man is free to act as he pleases, the manner in which he will act was foreknown from all time; not on the ground of fatalism or destiny but simply on the principle of universal, unchangeable harmony; and, as it may be foreknown that, when a musical note is struck, its vibrations will not and cannot change into those of another note. Besides, eternity can have neither past nor future, but only the present; as boundless space, in its strictly literal sense, can have neither distant nor proximate places. Our conceptions, limited to the narrow area of our experience, attempt to fit if not an end, at least a beginning of time and space; but neither of these exist in reality; for in such case time would not be eternal, nor space boundless. The past no more exists than the future, as we have said, only our memories survive; and our memories are but glimpses that we catch of the reflections of this past in the currents of the astral light, as the psychometer catches them from the astral emanations of the object held by him.
These quoted passages, if we can believe them, make some important points within the context of our theme. First, they deal with the realm of existence, so to say, next to the physical, of which we are normally unaware. They deal with the second principle in the constitution of Man and Cosmos. From these examples we learn more and more of the nature of that principle. We learn, too, that certain sensitive people with the faculty of clairvoyance, have the ability to perceive the contents of that realm. Then we learn that not only are past events impressed on the Astral Light, but also images of what is to come are foreshadowed. Further, and very importantly, we are told that, contrary to what might seem to be the case, these images of what is to be do not limit man's freedom of action. What is there to be seen is what he will do.
Because all these ideas are so strange to us it takes a long time to get used to them, and therefore it takes a long time to get an insight into all the qualities of that remarkable "substance" which surrounds everything-and everyone-as with an invisible, intangible, imponderable, but ever-present, living plasma, forming a bridge between the purely subjective mental worlds and our physical one.
It is interesting to note that our fourth principle, wherein our feelings, passions and desires, our longings, our affections and aversions have their being, is of this same astral stuff. There are various levels .of being within this Astral Light and the area referred to in Eastern literature as Kama-Ioka, literally the place of desire or feeling, appears to be one of these. This has caused some confusion in that the corresponding fourth principle, not the second, has, in some literature, been referred to as our astral body. If we would not be confused, however, we ought to reserve the word astral for the second principle of Cosmos and ourselves. Sometimes H.P.B. adds to this confusion by referring, in her stories and letters, when she is not being specifically technical, to the inner man as astral, and she obviously uses the term comprehensively to include both the Kama and Mayavi rupas, as well as the Linga Sarira.
As Astral Light is substantial in its nature, it serves as the medium through which forces can act. It is this substance that such "spirits" as Richard Dix could manipulate to produce sounds. It is through this substance that other apparent wonders-and otherwise inexplicable happenings-can be wrought. Something that must now be stressed is that this Astral Light, however wonderful to our way of thinking, is not spiritual, nor are the merely psychic
faculties of clairvoyance and clairaudience. The realm of the Astral Light, including what is often called the astral plane, is referred to as the world of illusion because much in it that a "seer" may see is self-created, projected from his own thoughts and feelings, just as the quality of its contents is conditioned by men's thoughts and feelings.
Regarding it, W. Q. Judge, a pupil of one of the Adepts in the last 19th century, says:
With regard to the astral plane being a more subtile order of matter, this truth is often denied by clairvoyants and untrained seers. They do not distinguish between the psychic senses and the spiritual. They can see through gross matter, such as a wall, the human body, and so forth, as if it were glass, but they cannot see through astral substance, and hence they believe its forms and all the pictures and shapes in the astral light to be real. Only the adept sees through these illusions, which are far more powerful because composed of a subtile order of matter: subtile energies, fine forces have a highly increased rate of power over grosser ones. The adept has at his command the rate of vibration which dispels them or drives them asunder. (Letters That Have Helped Me - p.27.)
Again talking of the constituents of the soul, in its two aspects, he lower, the psyche, and the higher or spiritual, H.P.B. says of he lower:
It is constituted of ethereal substance which pervades the whole universe [Note: But see end of Chapter 9 for qualification of this] and is derived wholly from the soul of the world - Anima Mundi or the Buddhist Svabhavat - which is not spirit; though intangible and impalpable it is yet, by comparison with spirit or pure abstraction, objective matter. (C. W. I, p. 293)
It would take too long to catalogue all the apparent wonders which have their origin in the Astral Light and to describe the control of its forces by those who have the power to do so, consciously or unconsciously. Instances currently before the public are the alleged marvelous healings and operations, previously referred to,
being performed in the Philippines. Some of these stories may not be true, and some of the "operations" may be faked, but there are too many well-authenticated reports of healings, where the patient, with an orthodox medical record, knows and shows himself to be cured, to dismiss the whole matter as fraudulent or ineffective. In these operations incisions are seemingly made without the use of the scalpel; under the operator's hand the skin apparently just parts. After the operations, it is said, it joins again without leaving a scar. It has been explained that the operator, by some unknown means, has the ability so powerfully to reverse the polarity between the cells of the skin that instead of their being attracted and held in the normal close contact, they repel each other for the time that the contrary force is maintained. When this force is removed they revert to their normal condition and the "incision"
closes. The cells, however, have not been damaged by cutting as they would have been with the customary surgery.
It is being discovered by biofeedback techniques that we can be trained to alter some of our physiological conditions, control heartbeat rate, and so on, and also that some psychosomatic symptoms can be relieved. All this too seems wonderful and inexplicable without a knowledge of the occult constitution of man and of the functions of his constituent elements. For example, we have said that his second principle, his astral body, is the bridge between his subjective operations and his normal brain consciousness. But we have also seen that these inner principles can be affected by his personal thoughts and feelings. If then these are changed by biofeedback processing, they in turn may affect the astral double. This, however, we must remember is the mould into which our physical body grows, the pattern on which it is built. Further, it is known that derangements in the astral double reflect in the physical body. Can it not be then that modifications in it, brought about by our altered thinking and feeling, will have their effect on the physical body? This at any rate is feasible, especially in the light of what we have now seen of the capacities of the elemental world.
We could go on multiplying examples of how a knowledge of the inner workings of Nature can give us reasonable explanations of seemingly supernatural feats or occurrences.
Concerning the production of phenomena of the Uri Geller type, or even those of the Philippine and South American healers, the following quotation is very relevant:
The production of phenomena is not possible without either the aid or disturbance of elementals. Each phenomenon entails the expenditure of great force, and also brings on a correspondingly great disturbance in the elemental world, which disturbance is beyond the limit natural to ordinary human life. It then follows that, as soon as the phenomenon is completed, the disturbance occasioned begins to be compensated for. The elementals are in greatly excited motion and precipitate themselves in various directions. They are not able to affect those who are protected. But they are able, or rather it is possible for them to enter into the sphere of unprotected persons, and especially those persons who are engaged in a study of occultism. And then they become agents in concentrating the Karma of those persons, producing troubles and disasters often, or other difficulties which otherwise might have been so spread over a period of time as to be not counted more than the ordinary vicissitudes of life. This will go to explain the meaning of the statement that an Adept will not do a phenomenon unless he sees the desire in the mind of another lower or higher Adept or student; further, there is a sympathetic relation established, and also a tacit acceptance of the consequences which may ensue. It will also help to understand the peculiar reluctance often of some persons, who can perform phenomena, to produce them in cases where we may think their production would be beneficial; and also why they are never done in order to compass worldly ends, as is natural for worldly people to suppose might be done-such as procuring money, transferring objects, influencing minds, and soon.
This last paragraph explains much that we might otherwise wonder about. First, if we can accept it, there are people with not only the ability to produce phenomena at will, who know how and what they are doing, but who also have knowledge of the possible consequences. They very rarely therefore perform phenomena. On the other hand phenomena do occur in a number of circumstances. They were formerly not uncommon in spiritualistic séances but are
rare now. We do, however, have our present-day wonder-workers, although on their own admission, as we have seen, they do not know how they perform these feats. Similarly, they are not aware of any probable consequences; otherwise they too might be less ready to perform them. Their phenomena, except for the healers, are not often of much magnitude or significance, so it is possible that the consequences would be correspondingly slight and can be ignored.
It does, however, seem very desirable that those who can do these things should learn at least as much as possible about what they are doing. Perhaps for some, what is written here will be the start of such a will to learn. At least it indicates the availability of some real knowledge about the power, forces, and modus operandi of Nature, in the 'great beyond'.
The subject of psychism must include something on magic. Concerning this ability, there is the following in an article on "The Science of Magic" (C. W. I, p. 137 and pp. 141-2):
The exercise of magical power is the exercise of natural powers, but SUPERIOR to the ordinary functions of Nature. A miracle is not a violation of the laws of Nature except for ignorant people. Magic is but a science. a profound knowledge of the Occult forces in Nature, and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible world. Spiritualism, in the hands of the adept, becomes Magic, for he is learned in the art of blending together the laws of the Universe, without breaking any of them and thereby violating Nature. (p. 137)
In India, magic has never died out, and blossoms there as well as ever. Practiced, as in ancient Egypt, only within the secret enclosure of the Temples, it was, and still is, called the "sacred science." For it is a science, based on natural occult forces of Nature; and not merely a blind belief in the poll-parrot talking of crafty, elementary ones, ready to forcibly prevent real. disembodied spirits from communicating with their loved ones whenever they can do so. (pp.141/2)
This last sentence is interesting. The fact is little realized and needs thinking about. As we saw earlier, the only times when "real, disembodied spirits" can communicate, and then only through
mediums, is in cases of premature death through, for example, accident and suicide.
But to return to Magic ... Those [previously mentioned] Hermeticists and philosophers may be disbelieved and doubted now, as everything else is doubted, but very few doubted their knowledge and power during their lifetime, for they always could prove what they claimed, having command over those forces which now command helpless mediums. They had their science and demonstrated philosophy to help them throw down ridiculous negations ... these philosophers were held in awe and reverence, even by those who did not implicitly believe in their Occult potency, for they were giants of intellect. (C. W. I, p. 138)
While on the subject, another paragraph is illustrative:
The cornerstone of magic is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations and potencies. Especially necessary is a familiarity with their effects in and upon the animal kingdom and man. (Isis. II, p. 589)
Summing up a dissertation on magic in some detail, H.P.B. says:
To sum up all in a few words, MAGIC is spiritual WISDOM; nature, the material ally, pupil and servant of the magician. One common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. The adept can stimulate the movements of the natural forces in plants and animals in a preternatural degree. Such experiments are not obstructions of nature, but quickenings; the conditions of intenser vital action are given.
The adept can control the sensations and alter the conditions of the physical and astral bodies of other persons not adepts; he can also govern and employ, as he chooses, the spirits of the elements. He cannot control the immortal spirit of any human being, living or dead, for all such spirits are alike sparks of the Divine Essence, and not subject to any foreign domination. (Isis 11, p. 590)
Exploring the Great Beyond > Next Page Chapter 14 Some Explanations