100. Of all spirit-manifestations the most interesting, without doubt, are those by which spirits are those by which spirits are able to render themselves visible. We shall see, by the explanation of these phenomena, that there is nothing supernatural in them, any more than in the others; but we will first introduce the answers that have been given to us by spirits on this subject.
1. Can spirits render themselves visible?
" Yes, especially when you are asleep; but there are who see them while awake, though is less common. "
Remark. - While the body reposes, the spirit disengages itself from its material bonds; it is then more free, and can more easily see other spirits, with whom it enters into communication. A dream is only a reminiscence of this state; when we remember nothing, we say we have had no dream, but the soul has none the less had its eyes open, and enjoyed its liberty. We shall here treat especially of apparitions seen while the seer is awake. *
2. Do spirits who manifest themselves to the sight belong to one class rather than another?
"No, they belong to all classes, the highest as well as the lowest."
3. Have all spirits the power of manifesting themselves visibly? "Yes, but they have not always the permission or the wish to do so."
4. When spirits thus manifest themselves, what is their object? "That depends upon their nature; their object may be good or bad."
5. What! do you assert that permission may be given when their object is a bad
The intention of the spirit may be bad, but the result may be useful."
"In such cases the apparition is permitted as a trial for those to whom it appears.
6. What can be the object of spirits in showing themselves when their intentions are evil?
"The desire to frighten, or sometimes to take revenge."
-What is the object of spirits who come with good intentions?
"To console those who regret them; to prove that they still exist, and are still
near you; to give good counsels; and sometimes to ask help for themselves."
7. What harm would there be, if the possibility of seeing spirits were permanent and general? Would not this be a means of removing doubts from the minds of the most incredulous?
"Men being constantly environed by spirits, the incessant view of the latter would trouble them, would put them out in their work, and would take from them, in most cases, their freedom of action ; thinking themselves alone, men act more freely. As to the incredulous, they have means enough of conviction, if they would but profit by them. You know that there are people who have seen, and yet who do not believe any the more on that account, for they speak of what they have seen as illusions. Do not vex yourselves about such people; God has them in His keeping."
Remark. - It would be as inconvenient to find oneself incessantly in the presence of spirits, as to see the air which environs us, or the myriads of microscopic animals around us and upon us. Hence we may conclude that what God does is well done, and that He knows what is good for us, better than we do.
8. If there be inconvenience in seeing spirits, why is it permitted in some cases ?
"It is to give you proof that all does not die with the body, and that the soul preserves its individuality after death. The passing glimpse thus afforded is enough to give this proof, and to attest the presence of friends near you, but is attended with no permanent inconvenience."
9. Is the view of spirits more frequent in worlds which are more advanced than this is?
"The nearer man approaches to the spiritual nature, the more easily he enters into conscious relationship with spirits; it is the grossness of your envelope which renders the perception of ethereal beings rare and difficult."
10. Is it reasonable to be frightened at the apparition of a spirit?
"Any one who reflects must see that a spirit, whatever it may be, is less dangerous than a person in the flesh. Spirits go about everywhere; and there is no need of seeing them, to know that you have them at your elbow. If a spirit wishes to hart you, lie can do so without showing himself, and with greater certainty when unseen; he is not dangerous because he is a spirit, but he may be so through the subtle influence that he is able to exercise over your thoughts, in turning you from the right path, and urging you to evil."
Remark. - Persons who are afraid when alone, or in the dark, rarely understand the cause of their fear they could not tell you what they are afraid of, but, most assuredly, there is more to be feared in meeting with men than with spirits, for a malefactor is more dangerous while in the flesh than after his death. A lady of our acquaintance, saw, one evening, in her bedroom, an apparition so lifelike that she thought some-body had entered the room, and her first feeling was one of fear. Having ascertained that no one in the flesh was in the room, she said to herself: ''It seems that it was only a spirit: so I can sleep in peace."
11. Can a person to whom a spirit appears enter into conversation with him?
"Certainly, and, moreover, this is what you should always do under such circumstances. You should ask the spirit who he is, what he wants, and what you can do to be of service to him. If the spirit is unhappy and suffering, he will be soothed by your commiseration; if he is a kindly spirit, he may have come with the intention of giving you good counsel."
- How, in such a case, can the spirit answer?
"Sometimes he answers by articulate sounds, like a living person, but, more frequently, there is transmission of thought."
12. When spirits appear with wings, have they wings in reality, or are these wings only a symbolic representation?
"Spirits have no wings ; they have no need of them, because, from their spiritual capabilities, they are able to transport themselves everywhere. They assume any appearance they choose, according to the effect they desire to produce on the person to whom they show themselves. Sometimes they appear in ordinary clothing; sometimes enveloped in flowing drapery; sometimes with wings, &c., as attributes of the category of spirits which they represent."
13. Are the persons we see in dreams always those whom they seem to be by their appearance?
"They are almost always the very persons whom your spirit has been to see, or who come to find you, during your sleep."
14. Could not mocking spirits assume the appearance of persons who are dear to us, and so lead us astray?
"They may assume fantastic appearances, to amuse themselves at your expense; but there are some things that they are not permitted to meddle with."
15. Thought itself being a kind of evocation, we can well understand that it may induce the presence of a spirit; but why does it so frequently happen that the people of whom we think most often, and whom we most ardently desire to see again, never appear to us in our dreams, while, on the contrary, we constantly see people who are indifferent to us, and whom we never think of?
"Spirits have not always the power to manifest them-selves to your view, even in a dream, notwithstanding your desire to see them; causes which are independent of their will may prevent their doing so. Moreover, this often occurs as a trial, which your most ardent desire is powerless to escape. As to persons whom you regard with indif- ference, although, you do not think of them, it is quite possible that they may think you. Besides, you can form no idea of the relations of the world of spirits; you meet there with a host of acquaintances, old and new, of whom you have no remembrance during your waking hours."
Remark. - When there is no confirmation of visions or apparitions, we may fairly set them down as hallucinations; but, when they are confirmed by events, we cannot attribute them to imagination. Such are, for example, the apparitions so often seen, sometimes in a dream, sometimes in the waking state, of persons of whom we had not been thinking, and who come at the moment of their death, to show us, by various signs, the circumstances of their decease, of which we had no previous idea. Horses have been often found to rear, and refuse to on, in the presence of apparitions which frightened their riders also. If imagination counts for something in the human subject, we can hardly suppose horses to be troubled by it. Again, if the images that we see in dreams were always the reflex of the preoccupations of our waking hours, it would not explain the fact, that we often never dream at all of what we think of most frequently while awake.
16. Why do certain kinds of visions occur most frequently during illness?
"They occur as frequently in perfect health ; but the material bonds are relaxed during illness, when the weakness of the body leaves the spirit more free ; so that it then enters more easily into communication with other spirits.
17. Spontaneous apparitions appear to be more frequent in some countries than in others. Is it that some races are better endowed than others for receiving this kind of manifestation?
"Apparitions, noises, all kinds of manifestations, in short, occur equally, all over the earth; but they present distinctive characteristics according to the peoples among whom they occur. Among those nations, for example, where writing is in little use, you will not find writing mediums; elsewhere, they abound. Again, noises and movements of objects are more frequent than intelligent communications, because these last are least esteemed, and least sought after."
18. How is it that apparitions generally take place during the night? - Is it owing to the effect of silence and darkness on the imagination?
"It is for the same reason that you see stars during the night, and do not see them during the day. A strong light effaces an apparition of slight force, but it is an error to suppose that night has anything to do with the matter. Interrogate those who have seen apparitions, and you will find that the greater number of them have occurred during the day."
Remark. Apparitions are much more frequent and more general than is usually supposed; but many persons do not speak of them from fear of ridicule, while others attribute them to illusion. If facts of this nature appear to be more common among certain peoples, it is because these facts, true or false, are more carefully recorded in the traditions of those peoples, multiplied, as well as amplified, by the taste for the marvellous to which certain localities are more or less predisposed by their aspect, and other natural conditions; the credulity of the inhabitants dressing tip the commonest occurrences in the garb of the supernatural. The silence of sparsely-peopled regions, the abruptness of ravines, the moaning of the wind through the trees, the roar of the tempest, mountain echoes, the fantastic shapes of clouds, shadows, mirages, all tend to excite illusions in the minds of the rude and the unlettered, who recount, with entire belief, what they have seen, or fancy they have seen. But side by side with fiction, is a reality; the establishing of the latter, freed from the puerile and debasing accessories added by the former, is one of the most important results of the serious study of spiritist doctrine.
19. Does the seeing of spirits take place in the normal state or only in the ecstatic state?
"It may take place ttnder perfectly normal conditions; nevertheless, people who see them are often in a peculiar state, bordering on trance, which gives them a kind of second-sight." (See The Spirits' Book, N° 447.)
20. Do those persons who see spirits see them with their eyes?
"They think they do; but, in reality, it is their soul that sees, for they can see them with their eyes shut."
21. How does a spirit make himself visible?
"As in all other manifestations, by employing certain properties of the perispirit, which may be made to undergo a Variety of modifications, at the will of the spirit."
22. Can that which is the spirit himself be made visible, or can it only be manifested by the perispirit?
"To you, in your materialised state, spirits can only manifest themselves with the aid of their semi-material envelope, which is the intermediary that enables them to act on your senses. It is with this envelope that they sometimes appear to you under the human form or any other; whether in your dreams or in your waking state, whether in the light or in the dark."
23. Is it by the condensation of the fluid of the perispirit that the spirit renders himself visible ?
"Condensation is not the right word, but rather a term of comparison which may aid you to form an approximative idea of the phenomenon; for, there is, in reality, no condensation. The combination of fluids produces, in the perispirit, a peculiar condition, to which nothing in your experience offers any analogy, and which renders it perceptible by you."
24. Are the spirits who appear to us inaccessible to the touch ; could they not be laid hold of?
"When in their normal state, you could no more seize them than you could seize a shadow: but, they can, nevertheless, make themselves felt by your sense of touch, and leave traces of their presence. They Can even, in certain cases, render themselves tangible for a short time ; which proves that there is something material in common between them and you."
25. Are all persons so constituted as to be able to see spirits?
"Yes, during sleep; but not in the waking state. In sleep, the soul sees without any intermediary; while you are awake, it is always influenced more or less by your organs. This is why the conditions are not quite the same when you are awake as when you are asleep."
26. Whence comes the faculty of seeing spirits while we are awake?
"That faculty depends on the Organisation, and on the greater or less degree of facility with which the fluid of the seer combines with that of the spirit. It is, therefore, not sufficient for the spirit to desire to manifest himself; it is also necessary that he should find the requisite aptitude in the person by whom he wishes to be seen."
-Can this faculty be developed by exercise?
"Yes, like all other faculties ; but it is one of those of which it is well to await the natural development, for fear of Over-exciting the imagination. A general and permanent sight of spirits is exceptional, and does not appertain to the normal state of humanity."
27. Is it possible to obtain the apparition of a spirit by summoning him to appear?
"Sometimes, but very rarely; apparitions are almost always spontaneous. To evoke with authority, you must be endowed with a special faculty."
28. Can spirits render themselves visible under any other than the human form?
"The human form is the normal form ; a spirit can vary the appearance of this form, but it is always the human type." *
- Cannot they manifest themselves under the appearance of a flame?
"They can produce flames and lights, as they can any other appearances, in order to attest their presence; but these appearances are not the spirits themselves. A flame is often only a mirage, or an emanation of the perispirit, of which, in all such cases, it is only a part : the perispirit only appears, in its entirety, in visions."
29. What are we to think of the idea which attributes the Will-o'-the-Wisp to the presence of souls or spirits?
"Such an idea is mere superstition ; the result of ignorance. The physical cause of the Will-o'-the-Wisp is well known."
-Was the blue flame, said to have been seen on the head of Servius Tullius, when a child, a fable or a reality?
"It was a reality, produced by a familiar spirit who desired to warn his mother. The mother, a seeing medium, perceived the radiation of her child's spirit-guide. All seeing mediums do not see with the same degree of Vision, just as your writing mediums do not all write the same thing. While this mother saw only a flame, another medium might have seen the spirit's body."
30. Could spirits present themselves under the form of animals?
"That may happen but it is only very inferior spirits who assume such a form. It could not, in any case, be more than a momentary appearance: for it would be absurd to believe that any veritable animal could be the incarnation of a spirit. Animals are always animals and nothing else."
Remark. - Superstition alone could suggest the idea that certain animals are animated by spirits. Only a very gullible or moon-struck, 'imagination could see anything supernatural in the peculiarities some-times displayed by animals; but fear often makes people see things that have no real existence. Fear, however, is not the only source of this idea we knew a lady, a very intelligent person in other respects, who had an unbounded affection for a large black cat, because she believed it to be of a super- animal nature. This lady had never heard of spiritism; if she had known anything of it, she would have known that such a metamorphosis is impossible.
* For farther details regarding the state of the spirit during sleep, see, in The Spirits’ Book, the chapter on the Emancipation of the Soul, N° 409.