I. Mediums for Physical Effects.
160. Mediums for Physical Effects are more espe-
cially fit to produce material phenomena, such as move-
ments of inert bodies, noises, &c. They may be divided
into optional mediums and involuntary mediums. (See
Part II., Chapters II. and IV.)
Optional Mediums are those who have a conscious-
ness of their power, and who produce the spirit phe-
nomena by the power of their will. This faculty,
though, as we have said, inherent in the human spe-
cies, is far from existing in all in the same degree; yet,
if there are few persons with whom it is absolutely null,
those who are capable of producing great effects, such
as the suspension of heavy bodies in space, aerial trans-
lation, and, above all, apparitions, are still more rare.
The most simple effects are those of rotation of an object,
rapping by the raising of the object, or even within its
substance. Without attaching primary importance to
these phenomena, we engage not to neglect them ; they
may give occasion to interesting observations and aid
conviction. But it is to be remarked that the faculty of
producing physical effects rarely exists with those who
have more perfect means of communication, as writing
and speaking. Generally, the faculty diminishes in one
sense in proportion as it develops in another.
161. Involuntary or natural mediums are those in
whom the influence is exercised without their will.
They have no consciousness of their power, and often
the abnormal occurrences around them seem to them
nothing extraordinary; it is a part of themselves,
absolutely like persons endowed with second sight,
and who never suspect it. These subjects are very
worthy of observation; and collecting and studying facts of this kind that may come to our knowledge
should not be neglected ; they show themselves at all
ages, even with very young children. (See, in Chap.
V., Spontaneous Manifestations?)
This faculty is not, by itself, the indication of a
pathological state, for it is not incompatible with perfect
health. If the one who possesses it is suffering, that
proceeds from a foreign cause; also therapeutic means
are powerless to end it. It may, in some cases, be
consecutive with a certain organic weakness, but it is
never the efficient cause. No inquietude, then, can be
reasonably felt in a hygienic point of view ; it could
produce inconvenience only if the subject, having
become an optional medium, should abuse its use,
because in that case there might be enfeebling of the
organs, from too abundant emission of the vital fluid.
162. Reason revolts at the idea of the tortures, moral and corporeal, to which science has sometimes subjected weak and delicate beings, to ascertain if there were treachery on their part; these experimentations, most often made through malice, are always injurious to sensitive organizations ; there might result from them serious disorders in the economy ; to make such trials is to sport with life. The sincere observer needs not these means ; besides, a person familiar with these phenomena knows that they belong more to the moral than to the physical order, and that their solution will be vainly sought in our exact sciences. For the very reason that these phenomena belong to the moral order, everything that can over-excite the imagination should be avoided with the most scrupulous care. We know what accidents fear can occasion, and persons would be less imprudent if they knew all the cases of insanity and epilepsy that have their origin in the stories of the were wolf and Croquemitanie; what will it be, then, if persuaded it is the devil?
Those who accredit such ideas know not the re- sponsibility they assume; they might kill. But the danger is not alone for the subject, but for those around him, who might be frightened at the thought of their house being a haunt of demons. It is this fatal belief that has caused so many acts of atrocity in times of ignorance. At the same time, with a little more discernment, they would, know that, in burning the body supposed to be possessed by the devil, they could not burn the devil. Since they wish to get rid of the devil, it is he they should kill: the spirit doc- trine, by-enlightening us on the true cause of all these phenomena, gives him the death-blow. Thus, far from encouraging this idea, we should, as a duty of morality and humanity, combat it where it exists.
What should be done when such a faculty is spon- taneously developed in an individual, is to leave the phenomenon to take its natural course. Nature is more prudent than man : besides, Providence has His views, and the smallest can be an instrument of the greatest designs. But it must be conceded that this phenomenon sometimes acquires fatiguing and importunate proportions for every one * ; here is what, in all cases, should be done. In Chapter V., on Spontaneous 'Physical Manifestations, we have already given some advice on this subject, saying that it is necessary to try to come into relations with the spirit, to know from him what he wants. ' T h e following method is also founded on observation. The invisible beings who reveal their presence by effects, are, in general, of an inferior order of spirits, who can be governed by moral ascendency ; it is this ascendency we must endeavor to acquire.
To obtain it, the subject must be made to pass from the state of natural to that of optional medium. Then there is produced an effect analogous to that which takes place in somnambulism. It is known that natu- ral somnambulism generally ceases when it is replaced by magnetic somnambulism. The emancipative fac- ulty of the soul is not stopped, but is turned into another course. It is the same with the medianimic faculty. Then, instead of arresting the phenomena, which is rarely successful, and not always without danger, the medium must be incited to produce them at will, by overawing the spirit; by this means he may be able to master him, and from a somewhat tyrannical ruler he makes of him a subordinate, and often very docile being. A fact worthy of remark, and justified by experience, is, that in such cases a child has as much, and often more, authority than an adult; new proof in support of this main point in the doc- trine that the spirit is a child only by the body, and that he has, by himself, a development necessarily anterior to his actual incarnation —a development that can give him the ascendency over spirits who are his inferiors.
The moralization of the spirit by the counsels of a third influential and experienced person, if the medium is not in a state to do it, is often a very efficacious means: we shall return to it later.
* One of the most extraordinary facts of this nature, for the variety and strangeness of the phenomena, is that which took place in 1852, in the Palatinate (Rhenish Bavaria) at Bergzabern near Wissembourg. It is the more remarkable, that it reunites, and with the same subject, nearly every kind of spontaneous mani festations — racket enough to shake the house, upsetting of fur niture, objects thrown to a distance by an invisible hand, visions and apparitions, somnambulism, ecstasy, catalepsy, electrical at traction, aerial cries and sounds, instruments playing without contact, intelligent communications, &c, and, what is not of minor importance, the verification of these facts during nearly three years, by innumerable eye-witnesses, all worthy of belief from their knowledge and social position. The authentic account of it was published in several German papers, and especially in a tract now out of print and very rare. The complete translation of this fact will be found in the Revue Spirite of 185 J, with the necessary commentaries and explanations. It is the only French publication, to our knowledge. Beyond the great interest at tached to these phenomena, they are eminently instructive for the pra:tical study of Spiritism.
163. In this category of mediums seem to belong
the persons endowed with natural electricity — veri-
table human torpedoes, producing, by simple contact,
all the effects of attraction and repulsion. It would
be wrong, however, to regard them as mediums, for true mediumship supposes the direct intervention of
a spirit; but in the case of which we speak, conclusive
experiments have proved that electricity is the only"
agent of these phenomena.
This strange faculty, which might almost be called
an infirmity, may sometimes be allied to mediumship,
as may be seen in the history of the rapping Spirit of
but often it is completely independent.
So, as we have said, the sole proof of the intervention
of spirits is the intelligent character of the manifesta-
tions ; wherever this character does not exist, there
is the right to attribute them to a purely physical
The question is, to know if electric persons
possess a greater aptitude for becoming mediums for
we think so, but this would be the
result of experience.