THEOSOPHY, Vol. 76, No. 4, February, 1988
(Pages 108-112; Size: 13K)


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 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 manifestations 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, and, as would appear from Mr. Crookes' experiments, even hour by hour. 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 degree. 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 of being 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 when a bar of steel is forged into a certain shape, it cannot be used for any other than its original purpose without difficulty. 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, Iamblichus, Plotinus, and Porphyry, 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; 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 suggestions of spirits and intelligences other than one's own immortal demon. 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 practised 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 in the progress of the world's history, 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 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 exercise of a trained and indomitable will-power 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:-- II, 596, 592; I, 109, 490, 367, 457, 486, 487, 488, 490, 488, 320.

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(1) NOTE.--A student's collation from Isis Unveiled.
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