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The History of Psychic Tools Psychic tools have a history going back thousands of years. We attempt to explain the evolution of these "devices" as well as show the connections between each of them. From the "pendulum board" used by Pythagoras through the most recent inventions.
Thomas Alva Edison and the Spirit World Thomas Edison is certainly regarded as one of the great minds of the ages. He has over 3,000 patents to his credit, more than anyone in history. Thomas Edison invented, among thousands of other things, the light bulb, the phonograph and many other "miracles of science" which we take foregranted today. Did you know that he spent years of his life building a machine which could communicate with the dead???
The "Ouija Board" - Fact, Fiction & Folklore The "ouija board" has been accused of many things. Some claim it's a direct link to the spirit world. Others would have you think that if you as much as went near one, you'd open the gates to hell and become posessed, just like the little girl in "The Exorcist..." We explore the FACTS and let the reader judge for themselves...
Do Spirits Write Books??? Via automatism and seances, many books have been published which credit supernatural entities with the authorship. We offer a synopsis of several well known, as well as nearly completely obscure books. We begin with discussing the "Seth Books", certainly the most famous of the lot. We also explore another book by well-resepected authors. In their book, they report to have communicated with famous "ghosts" including George Washington. Although this book is from 1882, they have some interesting things to report from entities living on Mars...
The Truth About Automatic Writing Automatic Writing is a powerful ability which most of us have yet to explore. We examine the evidence on hand and attempt to explain this phenomenon as well as potentials which are hardly explored.
Ouija Boards in the Movies... Psychic tools such as the "ouija board" have made their way into the spotlight many times. We reminisce about some of our favorites.
Sir William Barrett FRS was a Professor of Physics at the Royal College of Science for Dublin from 1873-1910 and one of the distinguished early psychical researchers. In fact, it was Barrett who first initiated the founding of both the American and British Society for Psychical Research. Here are some of his thoughts about the planchette...
LET US now enquire what further experimental evidence is afforded by psychical research for survival after death. No candid student of the evidence, so carefully sifted in recent years, can (in my opinion) resist the conclusion that there exists an unseen world of intelligent beings, some of whom, as the succeeding chapters will show, have striven to prove, with more or less success, that they once lived on earth. It would seem as if the mode in which the manifestation of these unseen intelligences takes place varies from time to time.
At one period hauntings and poltergeists appear to be most frequent, at another apparitions, at another super-normal physical phenomena, such as were discussed in the earlier chapters; at the present time automatic writing appears to be the most common.
It is interesting to note that automatic writing is also one of the oldest recorded forms of super-normal communication. More than 2,000 years ago it was mentioned by a Hebrew seer as follows: "All this the Lord made me to understand in writing with His hand upon me."(1) Automatic messages may take place either by the automatist passively holding a pencil on a sheet of paper, or by the planchette, or by the "ouija board." In this last method an indicator, - which may be a small board shaped like a planchette, or any other contrivance, - is lightly touched by the automatist's fingers and after a time it moves more or less swiftly to the different letters of the alphabet which are printed on a board below or arranged on a table.
All these modes of communication have the objection that the automatist, even when absolutely above suspicion, may unconsciously guide the pencil or indicator; hence the necessity for a critical examination of the evidence so obtained and of the contents of the messages themselves.(1) In the first place can the communications made through trustworthy automatists or mediums, be reasonably accounted for by thought-transference from those who are sitting with the medium, or telepathy from other living persons who may know some of the facts that are automatically written?
(1) The reader will bear in mind that the unseen intelligence may be, and probably is in some cases, only the subliminal of the medium.
This explanation has indeed been held by some investigators; but even assuming the fact of thought-transference, of which many automatic messages afford an interesting confirmation, that only helps us a little further; clairvoyance may occur, far-seeing as well as far-feeling. Then there is often a curious reflection of the prevailing sentiment of the community, "As if" (Professor James remarks), "the subconscious self was peculiarly susceptible to a certain stratum of the Zeit-Geist." "It is conceivable," as Mr. Myers remarks:
"… that thought transference and clairvoyance may be pushed to the point of a sort of terrene omniscience; so that to a man's unconscious self some phantasmal picture should he open of all that men are doing or have done. All this might be, but before such a hypothesis as this could come within the range of discussion by men of science there must be a change of mental attitude so fundamental that no argument at present could tell for much in the scale."
But it may be urged that the revival of lapsed memories, and of some of the many unconscious impressions made on our personality, may afford an explanation more in harmony with our present state of knowledge and the scientific views of today. This uprush of past impressions would come as a revelation to the subject, unrecognisable as belonging to his own past experience, and therefore regarded as no part of his own personality, but looked at merely with the curiosity and fainter interest that attaches to the "not me." Moreover, the series of unfamiliar nervous discharges, accompanying the emergence of new sensations and ideas from previously dormant nerve centres, would appear as foreign to the automatist as the reproduction of one's voice in the phonograph, or the reflection of one's face in a mirror, if heard or seen for the first time.
The sensation of "otherness" thus produced would give rise to the feeling of another Ego usurping the body, hence the "control" would be designated by some familiar or chance name other than the subject's own, or by a name that appeared to fit the ideas expressed.
But is this explanation sufficient? It may be a vera causa
, but does it account for all
the facts that are definitely known about double consciousness and about these automatic and trance communications? Regarding the latter, I know that it certainly does not
Whilst it disposes of, perhaps, the bulk of the messages usually attributed to disembodied spirits or Satanic agency, it does not cover all the ground. The late Hon. A. Aksakof - a distinguished Russian savant - whose opinion, formed after a painstaking and life-long study of the whole subject, is deserving of the highest respect of scientific men as well as of Spiritualists - points out, (and the evidence he adduces fully bears out his statement,) that the unconscious self of the medium cannot explain all the facts, but that an external and invisible agency is occasionally and unmistakably indicated. The opinion of the Russian savant is corroborated by the experience of other investigators; for instance, I will cite two distinguished and most competent authorities, who have made a careful study of this part of our subject.
In his textbook on "Psychology," the late Professor W. James, of Harvard, writes (p. 214):
"I am however, persuaded by abundant acquaintance with the trances of one medium that the "control" may be altogether different from any possible waking self of the person. In the case I have in mind it professes to be a certain departed French doctor, and is, I am convinced, acquainted with facts about the circumstances, and the living and dead relatives and acquaintances, of numberless sitters whom the medium never met before, and of whom she has never heard the names... I am persuaded that a serious study of these trance-phenomena is one of the greatest needs of psychology."
Professor W. James not only speaks with authority as an eminent psychologist, but he has had unusual opportunities for a careful investigation of the case of the well known medium Mrs. Piper, to whom he here refers, and he reiterates, - in a letter to Mr. Myers, published in the "Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research," Vol. VI., p. 658, - that:
"I feel as absolutely certain as I am of any personal fact in the world that she knows things in her trances which she cannot possibly have heard in her waking state."
Sir Oliver Lodge, F.R.S., the other witness I will cite, has also made a prolonged study of Mrs. Piper, and he fully endorses Professor James' opinion; he says:
"Mrs. Piper's trance personality is undoubtedly (I use the word in the strongest sense) aware of much to which she has no kind of ordinarily recognised clue, and of which she, in her ordinary state, knows nothing. But how does she get this knowledge?"
That is the question we have to face, and for this purpose what we have to do is to collect truth-telling, veridical, messages, and critically examine whether their contents were known to the deceased person and not known to the medium, or automatist, nor to the sitters. This is now being done, and has for many years past been done, by careful and skilled investigators connected with the English and American Societies for Psychical Research. The result has confirmed the opinion I have long held, and expressed in my book A New World of Thought (published many years ago), in the following sentences, which remain unchanged:
There is in my opinion evidence of occasional communications from those who have once lived on earth - not as satisfactory as one would wish, and never a complete revelation of their personality, but in general affording the same trivial and fragmentary presentation that we have in our own dreams. But the messages are more than the incoherent mutterings of a man in his sleep. Behind them there is the same evidence of a combining and reasoning power as we have in our own normal self-consciousness; evidence of an unseen personality, with an intelligence and character of its own entirely distinct from that of the subject's normal self.
(1) It has been held by some investigators that this person is only part of the personality of the medium, the transcendental Ego of the unconscious self; but, if so, it is, I am convinced, during trance in touch with those who have once lived on earth, evidence of some extra-terrene communicator certainly exists, unsatisfactory and dream-like though the communication often is. As Professor (now Sir Oliver) Lodge has pointed out concerning Mrs. Piper when her "control" is asked as to the source of its information:
(1) See the remarkable cases quoted by Mr. Myers in "Proceedings S.P.R.," Vol. VI, P. 341 et seq.
"She herself, when in the trance state, asserts that she," i.e., her "control," or that part of her which calls itself Dr. Phinuit, "gets it by conversing with the deceased friends and relatives of people present... but even when the voice changes and messages come apparently from these very people themselves, it does not follow that they themselves are necessarily aware of the fact, nor need their conscious mind (if they have any) have anything to do with the process."(1)
(1) "Proceedings S. P. R.," Vol. X, pp. 15 and 17.
This opinion Sir Oliver Lodge expressed in 1894, but the wider experience we have gained in more recent years, especially the evidence of "cross correspondence" (to which I will refer in a moment), has led all serious students of psychical research to the conviction that there is a conscious and designed effort on the part of the unseen communicators to convince us of their survival after death.
In fact the communications appear to fall into two groups, with an indefinite line of demarcation between them. In one group, the cause appears to be the operation of hidden powers that lie wrapped up in our present human personality, and which the peculiar organisation of the medium renders manifest; in the other group the cause appears to be the operation of the same powers, controlled by unseen personalities, who have once lived on earth, or claim to have done so.
That is to say, the unconscious mind of the medium is the instrument from
which in the former case and through
which in the latter the messages come. We must not, however, conclude that these latter are in every case extra-terrene in their origin, for a telepathic influence from living and distant persons may sometimes be their cause: as, for instance, in the well-known case of Rev. P. H. and Mrs. Newnham, where Mrs. Newnham's hand automatically wrote answers to questions previously written down by her husband, and of the purport of which her conscious self was wholly ignorant. This shows how necessary it is to submit all "spiritualistic" communications to the most rigorous scrutiny before deciding on their probable origin.