146. Pneumatography is writing produced directly by a spirit, without any intermediary ; it differs from psychgraphy which is the transmission of a spirit's thought by the writing of the medium's hand.
Wonderful as is the phenomenon of direct writing, it is, nevertheless, a fully proved and incontestible fact. If the theoretic teachings of spiritism are required to enable us to account for the occurrence of spirit-phenomena in general, they are even more necessary in regard to this particular phenomenon, which may well appear "supernatural" to those who are unacquainted with those teachings, but which, with their aid, are easily explicable.
When this phenomenon was first observed, the predominant feeling in regard to it was that of suspicion; the idea of trickery with the aid of certain inks which, at first invisible, become subsequently visible, was in everybody's thoughts. We cannot affirm that such deception has never been practised ; on the contrary, we are convinced that some persons, from mercenary motives, and others from vanity and to acquire the reputation of being powerful mediums, have, in too many instances, employed deceptions of various kinds. (See the chapter on Frauds.)
But it would be absurd to conclude that, because a phenomenon can be imitated, the phenomenon itself does not occur. Has not ingenuity succeeded in imitating the lucidity of a somnambulist, and so cleverly as to make deception appear a reality? And because this feat of charlatanism has had a run at fairs, are we therefore to conclude that there are no real somnambulists? Because some dealers sell adulterated wine, are we to assert that no pure wine is to be had? It is the same with direct writing the precautions for making sure of the reality of the fact are simple and easy; and, thanks to the employment or those precautions, the reality of this phenomenon is no longer a matter of doubt.
147. The possibility of writing without any human intermediary being now proved to be one of the attributes of a spirit, and spirits having always existed and having always produced the various phenomena with which we are now acquainted, it follows that they must have produced direct writing in ancient times, as well as at the present day; and we are thus enabled to explain the apparition of the four words on the wall of Belshazzar's palace.
The Middle Ages, so fertile in occult prodigies which it was sought to smother in the ashes of the stake, must also have witnessed the phenomenon of direct writing; and it was probably from a knowledge of the modifications which spirits can effect in matter, that the alchemists derived their belief in the transmutation of metals. (Chap. VIII.) But whatever partial knowledge of spirit-action may have been arrived at in the past, it is only in these latter days, and since the generalisation of the order of facts we are considering, that direct spirit-writing has attracted serious attention. The subject was first brought forward in Europe by Baron Guldenstubbe, in his very interesting work on this subject, containing a great number of fac-similes of direct spirit-writing obtained by him. * The phenomenon in question, however, had been known in America some time before; and has since occurred through several other mediums.
* The Reality of Spirits and of their Manifestations, proved by the Phenomenon of Direct Writing, GULDENSTUBBE.
148. Direct writing is often obtained, like most of the other non-spontaneous manifestations, through meditation, prayer, and evocation, and has been often produced in churches, on tombs, and at the foot of the statues or images of the personages evoked; but it is evident that observances and localities have no other influence than that of inducing deeper feeling and a more intense concentration of thought on the part of the medium and those about him, for experience has shown that it may be obtained equally well under other circumstances, and in other places, and even on an ordinary table, when sought for by those who combine the requisite moral conditions with the special medianimic faculty required for the production of the phenomenon.
It was at first supposed to be necessary, in order to obtain direct spirit-writing, to place a pencil with the paper on which the spirit was to write; and as it is known that spirits can move, displace, and take hold of objects, it was inferred that they employed the pencil in producing the writing. But the presence of a pencil was soon found to be unnecessary; a blank sheet of paper-whether folded or not is immaterial-has often been found to contain writing executed, in the course of a few minutes or moments, upon its surface. By the abstraction of the pencil, the character of the resulting manifestation is radically changed, and we are introduced to an entirely new order of phenomena; for the words thus produced are written with some sort of sub stance, and this substance, if not provided by us for the spirit, must necessarily be a product of his own, something which he has himself composed or brought. If so, what is it, and whence did he get it? Such is the problem of which we have now to indicate the solution.
If the reader will refer to the explanations give in our eighth chapter (127 and 128), he will find this phenomenon fully explained. With the aid of the principles therein laid down, we see that a spirit, in producing direct writing, does not use either our substances or our implements, but fabricates for himself the substance and the implements which he needs; drawing his materials from the primitive universal element and causing them, by his will, to undergo the necessary modifications for the production of the desired effect. He can therefore fabricate crayons of various colours, printing ink or common ink, or even typographic characters, sufficiently firm in texture to give relief to his imitation of printing; examples of all of which operations have been seen by us. The daughter of a friend of ours, a child of only thirteen years of age, has frequently obtained entire pages of direct writing, produced with a substance resembling pastel.
149. Such is the result to which we have been led by the study of the phenomenon of the snuff-box (116), to which we devoted much time and patience, because we saw that it offered the opportunity of ascertaining one of the fundamental laws of spirit-life, the knowledge of which would also elucidate more than one of the mysteries of the visible world. It is thus that light may be obtained from a careful examination of the simplest facts, provided that we do not confine ourselves to looking merely for effects, without seeking for their causes. If our conviction of the reality of the modern manifestations grows stronger day by day, it is because we understand what we believe; and if we desire to convince others of their reality, we must present the subject to them in such a way as that they, too, may understand it.
As for the value of the direct writing, we must admit that its chief utility has hitherto been the additional proof thus afforded of the intervention of an occult power in the production of phenomena appreciable by our senses, power which has found, in this species of writing, a new method of manifesting itself. Direct writing has been obtained in various ancient and modern languages, in hieroglyphics, &c.; but the messages thus given have usually been short, this method of communication not having as yet acquired the continuity and rapidity of psychography or writing by the hand of the medium.