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A "Spirit" Testfies On Materializations

From William Q. Judge Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.


Articles by WQJ

LAST month we gave two prophecies from the "spirit" Jim L Nolan as reported some years ago by the Religio-Philosophical Journal. 1.[Footnote: 1. Inadvertently, in the December article he name of the medium was given as "Hollis-Billing" when it should have been "Mrs. Hollis." ] As this "control" has expressed himself quite definitely on several subjects, this article deals with some of his views on the phenomena of materialization of "spirit forms." The method of communication needs explanation. It is reported as being through his "materialized organs of speech." It is what is sometimes called the "independent voice." In these phenomena the medium was not entranced but carried on conversation, and the voice would sound from the air or out of the wall. Sceptics of course say that it is purely ventriloquism by the medium, but there are a large number of credible and intelligent witnesses who say that after careful examination no such trick was played, and that in several instances the voice was plainly heard while the medium was speaking at the same time. There is no exclusive impossibility in the matter, for two classes of spirits can project a voice from what appears to be empty space. The first is composed of the spirits of living men who have gained great occult power, and the other of certain gross entities existing in Kama Loka.

The séances used for this article were reported by the R. P. Journal, beginning October 13, 1877. Replying to the first question, Jim Nolan's voice said that he understood "the processes of form materialization of spirits," and was then asked to fully explain such alleged materializations. His answer completely demolishes the theory that a spirit can materialize itself, and throws doubt around the identity asserted for any so-called spirit, but his views have not been accepted by the Spiritualists. He said:

Question.--Will you fully explain the mechanical process, without going into the chemical properties of the various constituents farther than may be essential to a clear understanding of your statements?

Answer.--You understand that electrical particles in a darkened room are in a quiet condition; and they are collected together by the spirits and laid one upon the other until a form is completed. After completing this materialized form, we take magnetism from the medium, or such magnetism as we can get from the circle, and put a coating upon the electrical particles of the physical body just completed and then the spirit steps into it and uses it in precisely the same manner as you use your physical form, controlling it by strong will-power. There are also other modes of materialization; sometimes we merely gather electrical particles and reflect upon them the face of some spirit, a reflected image as from a mirror is then seen; or we first place these electrical particles gathered in on a sheet, like, for example, a sheet of paper; then we coat this sheet with certain chemicals from the atmosphere, and then we reflect electrically upon them, and that brings the form of a face, and you clearly identify the likeness of a spirit; for instance, here is a young girl not more than 16; the medium can be covered with a coating and made to look precisely like her, and then made to appear like the form of an old man of ninety. Sometimes spirits walk out upon the floor. Frequently the medium walks out covered with this dressing or a coating looking exactly like your deceased relative, and, should that fade off, the medium would be standing in your presence.

Being then asked a question regarding deception by mediums when presenting themselves as the spirit called for, he made the following interesting remarks in reply to the second query:

The only mode of purification is the proper purification of yourselves. I will venture to say that you can bring twenty people into this room tonight who ask for materialization; ten out of that number would rather have the medium walk out from the cabinet and personate their friends, provided they did not positively detect the swindle, than go home without any manifestations. The spirits see this, and if not exactly honorable assist the medium. It is very rarely in cases of materialization that over two or three forms out of the whole number manifesting at a séance are newly materialized; the same form is used with another coating. Really, what would be the use in building a house for everyone who wishes to go into one for some especial purpose? Another point: the materialized form shown never belonged to the physical part of that spirit; such materializations merely consisting of chemical, electric, and magnetic principles or elements gathered from the atmosphere by the controlling or working band of spirits.

On the twenty-seventh of October in the same year Nolan was asked to explain the dematerialization of spirit forms, and said:

There is in such cases a black or darkened atmosphere thrown around it. It does not actually dematerialize. If it did, it could not be brought back again so quickly. When a body is materialized the particles composing the same are gathered together by the spirits and placed one upon the other until the desired form is completed; if these are separated they go back to the elements they were in before and we only gather them together again with greater difficulty; and often when the form disappears from view and you think it is dematerialized, the spirits have placed around it a darkened atmosphere to shut it from the view of those present.

On the seventeenth of November, 1877, the questions put were cognate to the present subject, and one of them, the fourth of that day, asked if fabrics such as pieces of garments were materialized so as to remain thereafter. Nolan justly replied:

No: such fabrics are not materialized. The spirit can clothe itself in garments that are brought from some place on earth; they are in every sense of the word material. It is impossible for spirits to materialize any fabric or garment so that it will remain on your earth. It would be impossible for a garment materialized by the spirits to remain on the material plane.

At another séance held in the same place and reported in the same journal of October 27, '77, Nolan was asked about memory by the first question. In replying he upheld the old views about the astral light, only calling it "magnetic light." As he was speaking of memory he went into an explanation to sustain his position and said:

In ancient times men called a certain light surrounding and emanating from every person the astral light, and upon which, they taught, was impressed or imprinted every thought or act of the individual. We, the spirits, ... call this emanation a magnetic light. ... All the acts of life are photographed upon the astral light of each person . . . the astral light retaining all those peculiar things which occur to you from day to day during life.

This is all theosophical and true. It has a wider range than the subject of materializations, and if followed out to its right conclusions will upset many a theory held by spiritualists of their own invention or given them by some of the "lying spirits" Nolan spoke of.

All these remarks by Jim Nolan's spirit we commend to the attention of Spiritualists and Theosophists. The first have ignored them and all conclusions to be made from them for years, and impugned their wisdom by contrary action. The word of one "spirit" should be of more weight than the theorizing of a living follower of mediums. In the plane from which the manifestations come the "spirit" must have more knowledge of these phenomena than the people who live in bodies on this. And when we find-as in the case of Nolan-a great deal of Theosophical and Occult wisdom displayed through his medium, who was unconnected then with the Theosophical Society, giving explanations which accord with what many a Theosophical student knows to be true, his opinions are of greater weight than those of such spooks as deal in platitudes or continue to crystallize more deeply the preconvictions of the medium or the sitters.

Nolan's explanations completely dispose of the identity of the alleged spirits. They assume a good deal in the line of Occultism, but nothing different from the explanations of similar astral and psychic phenomena offered by Occultism and Theosophy. They overturn, it is true, many of the spiritualistic theories, and that is why they have no credence there, for if followed out they would lead to Theosophy. In many of his other replies he says that which if attended to would have long ago purged Spiritualism, excluded the bosh that comes in floods from mediums, and made the cult of value to the world. He urged purity of mediums and their non-contact with the world. He demanded a cessation of wonder-mongering, of seeking for gratification of curiosity, of selfish questioning for business or other temporary purposes; he insisted on intelligence in question and investigation; he found, his requests refused, his suggestions ignored, and then-he disappeared. There are some who think, and perhaps with reason that he was no disembodied spook, but the spirit of an intelligent living person who sought near the descending arc of the cycle of "spiritualism" to inject a new method and bring about if possible a revival of true psychic investigation and demonstration in a body of people already largely prepared. But he was denied and ignored.

From what he says we can deduce the following as testimony from the world called by spiritualists the world of spirits:

(a) That no "materialized form" is the form of the spirit it.

(b) that all such forms are merely electro-magnetic shapes capable deluding, being mere reflecting surfaces.

(c) That the necessary elements for them are sucked out from the medium and sitters, thus depleting the vital forces of all present.

(d) That in many cases the supposed face of the deceased is a simple picture drawn from the astral light and reflected on the prepared electro-chemical magnetic surface, being delusion number two.

(e) That the astral light and its properties-or some such-are known to this super-sensual plane from which the phenomena come.

(f) That the astral light contains, preserves, and reflects when needed the images of persons who have left the earth, hence also of those living as well as of all events.

(g) That inasmuch as no sitter knows personally the facts of the super-sensual realm and its denizens-excluding the few who have vision-all sitters are at the mercy of the spooks and the pictures, and, it being declared by a spook-land denizen that two or three forms at the most are used for a much greater number of alleged identities to masquerade in, the whole question of the identity of reporting spirits is plunged in doubt. This has always been asserted by Theosophists, and in end of 1877 was clearly and forcibly said by H. P. Blavatsky, who, as Theosophists know, often said during her life that phenomena were full of "psychological tricks."

(h) Referring further to (c) we find that attending séances is full of danger to the sitters from the loss of vitality due to physical and nervous elements taken from their bodies for purposes of phenomena, whether those be materialization other. Certainly the materialization séance is positively shown by this "spirit" to have such dangers. And if anyone will take the trouble to read what H. P. Blavatsky said (see Incidents in her life) to her sister about what she saw with clairvoyant eye at séances he will more clearly see the danger; spooks dignified with the name of "spirit" were hovering about like octopi ready to pounce on any sensitive person for the purpose of drawing his vitality; they enveloped such, looking like vast sponges, and then disappeared into the form of the person, sure to leave him less so much energy.

Finally it results that there is a distinct issue raised by Jim Nolan which should be decided by the followers of mediums and "spirits" whether he is right or wrong; if right, as he seems to be from a philosophical view of the matter, then all theories different should be given up. At any rate the spiritualist ought give a good reason why the views of this spook, so accordant in many things with Theosophy, have had no acceptance, and why he is a liar or a fool and all the rest wise.

Path, January, 1894

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