THEOSOPHY, Vol. 6, No. 5, March, 1918
(Pages 193-199; Size: 23K)
(Number 7 of a 10-part series)
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
ADEPTSHIP AND MEDIUMSHIPThe accompanying article is made up of textual extracts from Isis Unveiled, topically and sequentially arranged. The page references from which the statements are taken, are given at the conclusion of the article. --EDITORS.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 trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it.
To comprehend the principles of natural law involved, the reader must keep in mind the fundamental propositions of the Oriental philosophy.
1st. There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law -- eternal, immutable, ever active. Apparent miracle is but the operation of forces antagonistic to what Dr. W. B. Carpenter, F.R.S. -- a man of great learning but little knowledge -- calls "the well-ascertained laws of nature." Like many of his class, Dr. Carpenter ignores the fact that there may be laws once "known," now unknown to science.
2nd. Nature is triune: there is a visible, objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and, above these two, spirit, source of all forces, alone eternal, and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.
3rd. Man is also triune: he has his objective, physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third -- the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
4th. Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of these principles, and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice.
5th. Arcane knowledge misapplied, is sorcery; beneficently used, true magic or WISDOM.
6th. Mediumship is the opposite of adeptship; the medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences; the adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies.
7th. All things that ever were, that are, or that will be, having their record upon the astral light, or tablet of the unseen universe, the initiated adept, by using the vision of his own spirit, can know all that has been known or can be known.
8th. Races of men differ in spiritual gifts as in color, stature, or any other external quality; among some peoples seership naturally prevails, among others mediumship. Some are addicted to sorcery, and transmit its secret rules of practice from generation to generation, with a range of psychical phenomena, more or less wide, as the result.
9th. One phase of magical skill is the voluntary and conscious withdrawal of the inner man (astral form) from the outer man (physical body). In the cases of some mediums withdrawal occurs, but it is unconscious and involuntary. With the latter the body is more or less cataleptic at such times; but with the adept the absence of the astral form would not be noticed, for the physical senses are alert, and the individual appears only as though in a fit of abstraction -- "a brown study," as some call it.
To the movements of the wandering astral form neither time nor space offer obstacles. The thaumaturgist, thoroughly skilled in occult science, can cause himself (that is, his physical body) to seem to disappear, or to apparently take on any shape that he may choose. He may make his astral form visible, or he may give it protean appearances. In both cases these results will be achieved by a mesmeric hallucination of the senses of all witnesses, simultaneously brought on. This hallucination is so perfect that the subject of it would stake his life that he saw a reality, when it is but a picture in his own mind, impressed upon his consciousness by the irresistible will of the mesmerizer.
But, while the astral form can go anywhere, penetrate any obstacle, and be seen at any distance from the physical body, the latter is dependent upon ordinary methods of transportation. It may be levitated under prescribed magnetic conditions, but not pass from one locality to another. Hence we discredit all stories of the aerial flight of mediums in body, for such would be miracle, and miracle we repudiate. Inert matter may be, in certain cases and under certain conditions, disintegrated, passed through walls, and recombined, but living animal organisms cannot.
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.
A familiar example of one phase of the power of the soul or astral body to manifest itself, is the phenomenon of the so-called spirit-hand. In the presence of certain mediums these seemingly detached members will gradually develop from a luminous nebula, pick up a pencil, write messages, and then dissolve before the eyes of the witnesses. Many such cases are recorded by competent and trustworthy persons. These phenomena are real, and require serious consideration.
The fluttering phantom-hand is an emanation from the medium. The "force concerned in the phenomenon" is the will of the medium, exercised unconsciously to the outer man, which for the time is semi-paralyzed and cataleptic; the phantom-hand is an extrusion of the man's inner or astral member.
The same principle involved in the unconscious extrusion of a phantom limb by the cataleptic medium, applies to the projection of his entire "double" or astral body. This may be withdrawn by the will of the medium's own inner self, without his retaining in his physical brain any recollection of such an intent -- that is one phase of man's dual capacity. It may also be effected by elementary and elemental spirits, to whom he may stand in the relation of mesmeric subject.
Dr. Fairfield is right in one position taken, viz.: mediums are usually diseased, and in many if not most cases the children or near connection of mediums. But he is wholly wrong in attributing all psychical phenomena to morbid physiological conditions. The adepts of Eastern magic are uniformly in perfect mental and bodily health, and in fact the voluntary and independent production of phenomena is impossible to any others. We have known many, and never a sick man among them. The adept retains perfect consciousness; shows no change of bodily temperature, or other sign of morbidity, but will do his feats anywhere and everywhere; and instead of being passive and in subjection to a foreign influence, rules the force with an iron will. The medium and the adept are as opposed as the poles. The body, soul, and spirit of the adept are all conscious and working in harmony, and the body of the medium is an inert clod, and even his soul may be away in a dream while its habitation is occupied by another.
A medium needs either a foreign intelligence -- whether it be spirit or living mesmerizer -- to overpower his physical and mental parts, or some factitious means to induce trance. An adept requires but a few minutes of "self-contemplation." The adept has no need of extraneous aids -- the simple exertion of his will-power is all-sufficient.
The mediums for real manifestations are least able, as a rule, to comprehend or explain them. The medium need not exercise any will-power. It suffices that she or he shall know what is expected by the investigators. The medium's "spiritual" entity, when not obsessed by other spirits, will act outside the will or consciousness of the physical being, as surely as it acts when within the body during a fit of somnambulism. Its perceptions, external and internal, will be acuter and far more developed, precisely as they are in the sleep-walker. And this is why "the materialized form sometimes knows more than the medium," for the intellectual perception of the astral entity is proportionately as much higher than the corporeal intelligence of the medium in its normal state, as the spirit entity is finer than itself. Generally the medium will be found cold, the pulse will have visibly changed, and a state of nervous prostration succeeds the phenomena, bunglingly and without discrimination attributed to disembodied spirits; whereas, but one-third of them may be produced by the latter, another third by elementals, and the rest by the astral double of the medium himself.
The mesmerizer wills a thing, and if he is powerful enough, that thing is done. The medium, even if he had an honest purpose to succeed, may get no manifestation at all; the less he exercises his will, the better the phenomena: the more he feels anxious, the less he is likely to get anything; to mesmerize requires a positive nature, to be a medium a perfectly passive one. This is the Alphabet of Spiritualism, and no medium is ignorant of it.
It is erroneous to speak of a medium having powers developed. A passive medium has no power. He has a certain moral and physical condition which induces emanations, or an aura, in which his controlling intelligences can live, and by which they manifest themselves. He is only the vehicle through which they display their power. This aura varies day by day. It is an external effect resulting from interior causes. The medium's moral state determines the kind of spirits that come; and the spirits that come reciprocally influence the medium, intellectually, physically, and morally. The perfection of his mediumship is in ratio to his passivity, and the danger he incurs is in equal ratio. When he is fully "developed" -- perfectly passive -- his own astral spirit may be benumbed, and even crowded out of his body, which is then occupied by an elemental, or, what is worse, by a human fiend of the eighth sphere, who proceeds to use it as his own. But too often the cause of the most celebrated crime is to be sought in such possessions.
The reader may inquire wherein consists the difference between a medium and a magician? The medium is one through whose astral spirit other spirits can manifest, making their presence known by various kinds of phenomena. Whatever these consist in, the medium is only a passive agent in their hands. He can neither command their presence, nor will their absence; can never compel the performance of any special act, nor direct its nature. The magician, on the contrary, can summon and dismiss spirits at will; can perform many feats of occult power through his own spirit; can compel the presence and assistance of spirits of lower grades than himself, and effect transformations in the realm of nature upon animate and inanimate bodies.
Physical phenomena are the result of the manipulation of forces through the physical system of the medium, by the unseen intelligences, of whatever class. In a word, physical mediumship depends on a peculiar organization of the physical system; spiritual mediumship, which is accompanied by a display of subjective, intellectual phenomena, depends upon a like peculiar organization of the spiritual nature of the medium. As the potter from one lump of clay fashions a vessel of dishonor, and from another a vessel of honor, so, among physical mediums, the plastic astral spirit of one may be prepared for a certain class of objective phenomena, and that of another for a different one. Once so prepared, it appears difficult to alter the phase of mediumship. As a rule, mediums who have been developed for one class of phenomena, rarely change to another, but repeat the same performance ad infinitum.
The majority of these spirits have naught to do with the phenomena consciously and deliberately produced by the Eastern magicians. The latter leave to sorcerers the help even of elemental spirits and the elementary spooks. The adept has an unlimited power over both, but he rarely uses it. For the production of physical phenomena he summons the nature-spirits as obedient powers, not as intelligences.
Were these god-like men "mediums," as the orthodox spiritualists will have it? By no means, if by the term we understand those "sick-sensitives" who are born with a peculiar organization, and who in proportion as their powers are developed become more and more subject to the irresistible influence of miscellaneous spirits, purely human, elementary, or elemental. Unquestionably so, if we consider every individual a medium in whose magnetic atmosphere the denizens of higher invisible spheres can move, and act, and live. In such a sense every person is a medium. Mediumship may be either 1st, self-developed; 2nd, by extraneous influences; or 3rd, may remain latent throughout life. The reader must bear in mind the definition of the term, for, unless this is clearly understood, confusion will be inevitable. Mediumship of this kind may be either active or passive, repellent or receptive, positive or negative. Mediumship is measured by the quality of the aura with which the individual is surrounded. This may be dense, cloudy, noisome, mephitic, nauseating to the pure spirit, and attract only those foul beings who delight in it, as the eel does in turbid waters, or, it may be pure, crystalline, limpid, opalescent as the morning dew. All depends upon the moral character of the medium.
About such men as Apollonius there gathered this heavenly nimbus. It was evolved by the power of their own souls in close unison with their spirits; by the superhuman morality and sanctity of their lives, and aided by frequent interior ecstatic contemplation. Such holy men pure spiritual influences could approach. Radiating around an atmosphere of divine beneficence, they caused evil spirits to flee before them. Not only is it not possible for such to exist in their aura, but they cannot even remain in that of obsessed persons, if the thaumaturgist exercises his will, or even approaches them. This is MEDIATORSHIP, not mediumship. Such persons are temples in which dwells the spirit of the living God;(2) but if the temple is defiled by the admission of an evil passion, thought or desire, the mediator falls into the sphere of sorcery. The door is opened; the pure spirits retire and the evil ones rush in. This is still mediatorship, evil as it is; the sorcerer, like the pure magician, forms his own aura and subjects to his will congenial inferior spirits.
But mediumship, as now understood and manifested, is a different thing. Circumstances, independent of his own volition, may, either at birth or subsequently, modify a person's aura, so that strange manifestations, physical or mental, diabolical or angelic, may take place. Such mediumship, as well as the above-mentioned mediatorship, has existed on earth since the first appearance here of living man. The former is the yielding of weak, mortal flesh to the control and suggestion of spirits and intelligences other than one's own immortal demon.(3) It is literally obsession and possession; and mediums who pride themselves on being the faithful slaves of their "guides," and who repudiate with indignation the idea of "controlling the manifestations," could not very well deny the fact without inconsistency. This mediumship, whether beneficent or maleficent, is always passive. Happy are the pure in heart who repel unconsciously, by that very cleanness of their inner nature, the dark spirits of evil. For verily they have no other weapons of defense but that inborn goodness and purity. Mediumism, as practiced in our days, is a more undesirable gift than the robe of Nessus.
Physical mediumship depending upon passivity, its antidote suggests itself naturally; let the medium cease being passive. Spirits never control persons of positive character who are determined to resist all extraneous influences. The weak and feeble-minded whom they can make their victims they drive into vice. It is notorious that the best physical mediums are either sickly, or, sometimes, what is still worse, inclined to some abnormal vice or other.
"The tree is known by its fruits." Side by side with passive mediums appear active mediators. We designate them by this name for lack of a better one. The ancient witches and wizards, and those who had a "familiar spirit," generally made of their gifts a trade. Not so with the mediators, or hierophants. These men were guided merely by their own personal spirit, or divine soul, and availing themselves of the help of spirits but so far as these remain in the right path.
What we have said of mediums and the tendency of their mediumship is not based upon conjecture, but upon actual experience and observation. There is scarcely one phase of mediumship that we have not seen exemplified during the past twenty-five years(4) in various countries. India, Thibet, Borneo, Siam, Egypt, Asia Minor, America (North and South) and other parts of the world, have each displayed to us its peculiar phase of mediumistic phenomena and magical power. Our varied experience has taught us two important truths, viz.: that for the exercise of the latter personal purity and the exercise of a trained and indomitable willpower are indispensable; and that spiritualists can never assure themselves of the genuineness of mediumistic manifestations, unless they occur in the light and under such reasonable test conditions as would make an attempted fraud instantly noticed.NOTE.--The volume and page references to Isis Unveiled, from which the foregoing article is compiled, are, in the order of the excerpts as follows:-- Volume II, 590, 635, 588, 589, 590, 594, 595, 596, 592, 594, 596; volume I, 109, 490, 367, 457, 487, 488, 490, 488.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE UNIT OF VALUE
The Unit of all Value is the human Soul; and life as we find it is the sum total of individual effort. In every man it is the flower, fruit, and seed of his own Past, -- and he himself is the ever-Present moment in which that seed is being sown for Future use.
As the offspring of Spirit and Matter, (two aspects of our ONE parent) he is endowed with Immortality, Responsibility, and Opportunity which must be acknowledged and accounted for. Human parentage provides only a working body, which the Spirit assumes shortly before his birth into this world, -- and death itself is no more than a change of Form and environment.
Children especially should be reminded of such facts; for whether the world is to be made better or worse depends largely on their fundamental views of Life.
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
(Part 8 of a 10-part series)
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FOUR (4) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Preceding studies were published in THEOSOPHY from March to August, 1917, inclusive. --EDITORS THEOSOPHY. [Note: Meaning the first six articles in this series. --Compiler.]
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(2) The Higher Self.
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(3) The Higher Self.
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(4) That is to say, from 1851 to 1876. --EDITORS THEOSOPHY.
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