THEORY OF PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS.
Movements and liftings - Sounds - Temporary increase and decrease of
the weight of bodies.
72. The existence of spirits being proved by reasoning and by facts, as well as
their power of acting upon matter, we have now to ascertain the way in which this
power operates, and the means by which spirits move tables and other inert bodies.
In regard to these points, a supposition presented itself spontaneously to our
own mind, and we held it for a time ; but, as it was combated by spirits, who gave us an
explanation of the matter altogether different from the one which had occurred to us, it
is evident that this explanation was not of our inventing. The idea that had first
occurred to us may probably have occurred to many others also; as for the explanation
given by the spirits, we do not think it would ever have come into the head of any
human being. It will easily be seen how very superior it is to our own idea, although
not so simple, because it explains a vast number of other facts which could not have
been satisfactorily explained by our own idea.
73. When we had arrived at a knowledge of the nature of spirits, of their human
form, of the semi-material properties of the perispirit, and of the mechanical action that
the perispirit can exercise over matter, - when we had seen their fluidic hands, often as
tangible as human ones, taking hold of various objects, and Carrying them about, it was only natural to infer
from all this that the spirit simply made use of its hands when it turned a table, and that
it raised a table into the air by the action of its arms. But if so, where was the need of a
medium? could not the spirit act alone? The medium, as we know, often places his
hands the wrong way to help the movement, and sometimes does not even put them on
the table at all; he therefore cannot assist the spirit by any muscular action. How was
this difficulty to be explained? We will let this question be answered by the spirits
whom we have interrogated in regard to it.
74. The following replies were given by the spirit of Saint Louis ; they have
since been confirmed by many others: -
I. Is the universal fluid an emanation of the Divinity?
2. Is it a creation of the Divinity?
"All is created, except God."
3. Is the universal fluid the universal element
"Yes, it is the elementary principle of all things."
4. Has it any relation to the electric fluid, the effects of which we know?
"It is its element."
5. What is the state in which the universal fluid presents itself to us in its
"To find it in its absolute simplicity, we must trace it up to the spirits who are
completely purified ; in your world it is always more or less modified for the formation
of the compact matter which encompasses you; but what you call the animal-magnetic
fluid is the universal fluid in the simplest state in which it can be known to you."
6. It has been said that the universal fluid is the source of life ; is it also the
source of intelligence ?
No ; this fluid only vitalises matter."
7. The fluid of which the perispirit is composed appears to exist, in connexion
with our earth, in a state of condensation which identifies it, up to a certain point, with
matter," properly so called. Is it so?
"Yes but only, as you say, up to a certain point; for it has not all the properties
of matter; it is more or less condensed, according to the nature of each world."
8. How does a spirit effect the movement of a solid body?
"He combines a portion of the universal fluid with the fluid which is thrown off
to this end by the medium."
9. Do spirits raise tables with the aid of their limbs rendered solid by some
process known to them?
"Our answer to this question will not give you the confirmation you are wishing
for. When a table moves under your hands, the spirit who is acting upon it draws from
the universal fluid the means of vitalising this table with artificial life. The table being
thus prepared, the spirit attracts it, and moves it, under the influence of his own fluid,
thrown off by an exertion of his will. When
the mass which he desires to move is too heavy for the spirit, he calls to his aid other
spirits, of the same degree as himself; On account of his ethereal nature, a spirit cannot
act upon gross matter without an intermediary, that is to say, without the link which
unites spirit to matter; this link, which is what you call the perispirit, gives you the key
to all the materialised spirit-phenomena. I think I have expressed myself clearly enough
to be understood."
Remark. - We would call attention to tills first phrase : -" Our answer to this
question will not give you the confirmation you are wishing for." The spirit evidently
understood what we were driving at, and that all our previous questions had been put in
order to lead up to it. He therefore alluded to our thought, which, in fact, anticipated an
answer very different from the one we got; for, what we had expected was tile
confirmation of our own idea with regard to the manner in which spirits move tables
and other objects.
10. When a spirit calls other spirits to his aid, are they his inferiors ?-are they
under his orders?
"They are almost always his equals; and they often come of their own accord."
11. Are all spirits capable of producing phenomena of this kind ?
"The spirits who produce effects of this kind are always inferior spirits, who are
not yet entirely disengaged from material influences."
12. We can understand that superior spirits do not occupy themselves with
things beneath them ; but we wish to ask, whether, being more dematerialised than the
others, they would have the power of producing such effects, if they wished to do so?
"They have moral force, as the others have physical force ; when they want the
latter, they make use of those who possess it. Have you not been told that they make
use of inferior spirits as you make use of porters?"
Remark - It has been said that tile density of the perispirit, if one may so express
it, varies according to the condition of each world but it appears that it also varies, in
the same world, according to the state of each individual. In the case of spirits who are advanced morally, it is more
subtle, and approaches nearer to that of the higher spirits ; with spirits of lower degree,
on the contrary, it approaches to the condition of matter, and this Is why low spirits
retain terrestrial illusions for so long a time. Such spirits think and act just as if they
were still in the flesh ; they have the same desires, we might almost say, the same
sensualities. This grossness of the perispirit, giving it more affinity with matter, renders
the inferior spirits more fit for physical manifestations. It is, with spirits, just as it is
with a man who, in this world, is accustomed to working with his intellect, and whose
body, being therefore more delicate, cannot carry a heavy burden, like a porter. Tire
matter of such a man's body is somewhat less compact, and, his organs having less of
the nervous fluid, he has less power of resistance. The perispirit being to the spirit what
the body is to the man, and its density being in proportion to the spirit's inferiority, it
replaces, in lower spirits, the muscular force possessed by men of corresponding degree
; that is to say, it gives them the denser kinds of fluids that are necessary for the
physical manifestations, and thus gives them more power to produce such
manifestations than is possessed by those whose nature is more ethereal. If an elevated
spirit desires to produce effects of this character, he does just what is done, here, by
people who are delicate ; he gets it done by spirits whose quality fits them for that kind
13. If we have rightly understood what you have told us, the vital principle
resides in the universal fluid; the spirit draws from this fluid the semi-material envelope
which constitutes his perispirit, and it is by means of this envelope that he acts upon
inert matter. Is this so?
"Yes ; that is to say, he temporarily vitalises matter with a kind of factitious life,
causing it to live, for a time, as it does in an animal body. When a table moves under
your hands, the matter of which it is composed lives, for the time being, as matter lives
in a body of flesh; that is to say, it spontaneously obeys the intelligent being who
employs it. Intelligent beings do not move matter, as a man moves an object exterior to
himself; matter moves of itself; under the impulsion of the intelligent will with which it
is associated. So, when the table moves, it is not the spirit who moves it with his arms;
it is the temporarily vitalised matter of the table that spontaneously obeys the impulsion
communicated to it by the spirit."
14. What part does the medium play in the production of this phenomenon?
"I have told you that the fluid of the medium is combined with the universal
fluid accumulated by the spirit. The union of these two fluids, that is to say, of the
animalised fluid with the universal fluid, is necessary to give life to the table. But you
must remember that this factitious life is only momentary; it ceases with the cessation
of the spirit-action which produced it, and often before the cessation of that action, if
the supply of fluid becomes insufficient to maintain it."
15. Can a spirit act on matter without the joint action of a medium?
"A spirit can act without the medium being aware of it; many persons serve as
auxiliaries to spirits, in certain phenomena, without their suspecting it The spirit draws
from them, as from a well, the animalised fluid that he requires ; and this is why the
concurrence of a medium, as you understand it, is not always necessary, especially in
the case of spontaneous phenomena."
16. Does the table act with a knowledge of what it is about ?-does it think?
"It no more thinks than does the stick with which you make an intelligent sign;
but the vitality with which it is momentarily endowed permits it to obey the impulsion
of an intelligence. The table which moves does not turn into a spirit; it has not of itself
either thought or will."
17. What is the preponderating cause in the production of these phenomena; is it
the spirit or the fluid?
"The spirit is the Cause, the fluid is the instrument; both are necessary."
18. What part does the will of the medium play in this case?
"That of calling the spirits, and seconding them in the impulsion given by them
to the fluid."
-Is the action of the medium's will always indispensable?
"It adds to the power of the spirits, but it is not always necessary, for a given
movement may be made to take place, against, and in spite of; the medium's will; which
is a proof that there is a cause at work that is independent of the medium."
Remark. - The contact of hands is not always necessary to make an object move.
Such contact is needed, in most cases, to give the first impulsion ; but, when once the
object is vitalised, it can obey the will without material contact; this depends either on
the power of the medium or on the nature of the object. A first contact, even, is not
always indispensable; we have proof of this in the spontaneous movements and
displacements that occur without any one having thought of obtaining them.
19. How is it that every one cannot produce the same effects, and why have not
all mediums the same power?
"That depends on the Organisation, and on the greater or less facility with which
the combination of fluids can be effected; moreover, the spirit of the medium
sympathises sometimes more, sometimes less, with the disincarnate spirits, who do, or
do not, find in him the necessary fluidic power It is with this fluid as with that of
magnetisers ; it is more or less powerful. There are persons whose animalised fluids
are, in this respect, absolutely refractile; with others, the combination is only effected
by an effort of their will ; while there are others, again, with whom the combination
takes place naturally, and so easily that they are not even aware of it, and who thus
serve as mediums without knowing it, as we have already said." (See, farther on, the
chapter on Spontaneous Manifestations.)
Remark. - Magnetism is undoubtedly the principle of spirit-phenomena, but not
in the way generally supposed ; for there are very powerful magnetisers who cannot
move the smallest table, while there are persons, and even children, who cannot
magnetise, and who yet, by only placing their fingers upon a heavy table, can make it
move and therefore, as the medianimic power is not always proportioned to the
magnetic power, it is evident that some other condition is required for the production of
20. Are persons who are called "electrical" to be regarded as mediums?
"Those persons draw to themselves the fluid necessary for the production of the
phenomena, and are able to act without extraneous help. They are, therefore, not
mediums, in the sense you attach to the word; but it is quite possible that a spirit may
also assist them, and make use of their natural idiosyncrasy."
Remark. - It would seem to be with persons of this description as with
somnambulists, who can act with or without the assistance of spirits. (See, in the chap.
on Mediums, the article relating to Somnanbulic Mediums)
21. Is the spirit who acts on solid bodies, when he moves them, inside or outside
"He may be in or out of it; we have told you that matter is no obstacle to spirits;
they penetrate everything; a portion of their perispirit identifies itself; so to say, with the
object it penetrates."
22. How does a spirit manage to rap? does he make use of a material object?
"No more than he makes use of his arms to move a table. You are well aware
that he has no hammer at his disposal. His tool is the combined fluid put in action by
his will, whether he moves an object, or whether he raps upon it. When he moves a
body, the light shows you the movements; when he raps, the air conveys to you the
23. We can understand that it may be so, when he raps on a hard body; but how
does he cause us to hear raps, or even articulate sounds, in the air?
"Since he can act on matter, he can act upon the air as well as upon a table. As
to articulate sounds, he can imitate them like other sounds."
24. You tell us that a spirit does not make use of his hands in moving a table;
nevertheless, in certain visual manifestations, we have seen hands appear, the fingers of
which ran over the keyboard of a musical instrument, struck the keys, and produced
audible sounds. Was there not, in such cases, every appearance of the movement of the
keys being produced by the pressure of the fingers? - Is not this pressure as direct and
as real as when we feel these fingers upon ourselves, and when these hands actually
leave their impress on our skin?
"You cannot comprehend the nature of spirits, and their manner of acting,
except by comparisons which give you but an incomplete idea of them; and you are
wrong to be always wanting to assimilate their ways of proceeding with yours. Spirits
can only work in the way that is in keeping with their organisation. Have we not told
you that the fluid of the perispirit penetrates matter and identifies itself with the matter
it penetrates, vitalising it, for the time being, with a factitious life? Well when the
spirit places his fingers on the keys, he really places them there, and what is more, he
moves them; but it is by no muscular force that he presses on the key; he vitalises the
key, as he vitalises the table, and the key obeys his will, moves itself, and strikes the
string. And there is, yet further, in some cases of this kind, something to be remarked
which you will find it difficult to understand, viz., that there are spirits so little
advanced, and so material, as compared with elevated spirits, that they still retain the
illusions of terrestrial life, and imagine themselves to be acting as they did when in the
body. They no more understand the real cause of the effects which they themselves
produce, than the peasant understands the laws of acoustics by which he articulates. If
you ask such spirits how they play on the piano, they will tell you that they strike it with
their fingers, because they suppose themselves to do so; the effect is
produced by them instinctively, without their knowing how, and yet it is really
produced by an action of their will. When they cause you to hear words pronounced,
they do it in the same way."
Remark. - From these explanations it appears that spirits can produce all the
effects that we ourselves can produce, but that they do so by the use of means
appropriate to their organisation. Certain forces, peculiar to themselves, replace the
muscles which are necessary to us in our manipulations ; just as, with the dumb man, a
gesture replaces the words which he is unable to articulate.
25. Among the phenomena adduced as proofs of occult power, there are some
which are evidently Contrary to all the known laws of nature; does not doubt appear to
be reasonable in regard to such?
"Man is far from knowing all the laws of nature ; if he knew them all, he would
be superior to humanity. Every day disproves the pretensions of those who, believing
they know everything, would assign limits to nature; and yet they remain as much
puffed up as ever. By incessantly unveiling new mysteries, God warns man to distrust
his own acquirements ; for a day will come when the science of the most learned will be
confounded. * Have you not constantly before your eyes examples of bodies propelled
by an impulsion capable of counteracting the force of gravity? - Does not a bullet, fired
into the air, momentarily surmount that force? Poor human beings, who think
yourselves so very wise, but whose absurd vanity is upset every instant, try to
understand that you are, as yet, but very ignorant little creatures!"
75. These explanations are clear, categorical, and unambiguous; and from them
we derive this very important information, viz., that the universal fluid, in which
resides the principle of life, is the chief agent of spirit-manifestation, and that this agent
receives its impulse from the spirit, whether the latter be incarnated or errant. This fluid, condensed, constitutes the
perispirit, or, in other words, the semi-material envelope of the spirit. In the state of
incarnation, the perispirit is united to the matter of the body ; in the erratic state, it is
free. When the spirit is incarnated the substance of the perispirit is more or less bound,
more or less adherent, if we may be allowed the expression. With certain persons, a sort
of emanation of this fluid takes place, as the result of their Organisation; and it is this
fact, strictly speaking which explains the peculiar qualities of physical mediums. The
emission of this animalised fluid may be more or less abundant, its combination more
or less easy; and mediums will accordingly be more or less powerful There is nothing to
guarantee the permanence of the medianimic faculty; and the occasional loss of power
by mediums is thus explained.
76. Let us here call in the aid of a comparison. When we desire to act physically
upon a given point at a distance, it is our thought which determines the action ; but
thought cannot of itself strike the blow : it must have an intermediary which it directs,
such as a stick, a projectile, a current of air, etc. Observe, too, that thought does not act
directly upon the stick; for, if the stick is not touched, it will not act. The source of
thought, which is nothing else than the spirit incarnated within us, is united to the body
by the perispirit ; but the thought can no more act upon the body without the perispirit,
than it can act upon the stick without the body. Thought acts upon the perispirit,
because the perispirit is the substance with which it has most affinity; the perispirit acts
upon the muscles, the muscles seize the stick, and the stick strikes the mark. When the
spirit is not incarnated, he requires an extraneous auxiliary; this auxiliary is the vital
fluid, by the aid of which he renders the object apt to obey the impulsion of his will.
77. When an object is set in motion, carried away, or raised into the air, the
spirit does not seize it, push it, or lift it, as we do with our hands ; the spirit, so to say,
saturates it with his own fluid combined with that of the medium,
and the object, being thus vivified for the moment, acts as a living being would act,
with this difference, that, not having a will of its own, it follows the impulsion
communicated to it by the will of the spirit.
As the vital fluid, under the action of the spirit, gives an artificial and
momentary life to inert bodies, and as the perispirit is nothing else than this same vital
fluid, it follows that, when the spirit is incarnated, it is the spirit that gives life to the
body by means of the perispirit; and the perispirit remains united to the body, as long as
the organisation of the latter permits; when separated from it, the body dies. If;
therefore, instead of fashioning wood into a table, we should hew it into a statue, and if
we then acted upon this statue as upon a table, we should have a statue moving,
rapping, and responding to our action by movements and raps ,- we should, in short,
have a statue vitalised for the moment with artificial life, and those who have so
perseveringly sharpened their wits upon "talking-tables" might sharpen them upon
talking-statues. But what a flood of light does this theory shed on a host of phenomena
hitherto unexplained! Of how many allegories, how many mysterious legends, does it
give us a rational explanation!
78. The incredulous go so far as to assert that the raising of a table, without a
prop, is impossible, because it would be contrary to the law of gravitation. To this
assertion we reply, first, that negation disproves nothing; next, that, the occurrence of a
fact, if contrary to all known laws, would only prove that it occurs in virtue of some law
as yet unknown to us. We shall give, further on, an explanation of this law; but our
explanation will not be accepted by our adversaries, precisely because it is given by
spirits who have quitted their terrestrial garments, instead of being given by spirits who
wear frock-coats and sit in learned assemblies. If the spirit of Arago, in the flesh, had
laid down this law, those objectors would have accepted it blindfold; but, being given
by Arago after his decease, they reject it as fanciful, because according to them, Arago
being dead, all is over with him. We will not pretend to alter their opinion; but, as this
objection might prove a stumbling-block to some minds, we will try to answer it from the
objector's Own standpoint, that is to say, leaving aside, for the moment, the theory of
79. When a vacuum is produced under the receiver of an air-pump, it is held
down so forcibly that it is impossible to raise it, owing to the weight of the superin-
cumbent column of air. Let the air into the receiver, and it is raised with the greatest
ease, because the air beneath it acts as a counterpoise to the air above it. If the air
beneath the receiver be now compressed, it will acquire a density greater than that of
the air above, and the receiver will be raised, in spite of gravitation ; and, if the current
of air be rapid and violent, it will be sustained in space without any visible support, in
the same way as are the little figures of pith that are made to dance on a jet of water.
Why then should not the universal fluid, which is the constituent element of all matter,
when accumulated around a table, have the property of diminishing or of augmenting
its natural weight, just as air affects the receiver of the air-pump, and as hydrogen
affects balloons, without any derogation from the law of gravitation? Are you aware of
all the properties of all the forces of this fluid? No; then do not deny a fact because you
are as yet unable to explain it.
80. Let us return to the theory of the movement of a table. If a spirit can raise a
table by the means indicated, he can raise anything else: an arm-chair, for example. If
he can raise an arm-chair, he can also, sufficient force being granted, raise it with some
one sitting in it. We have thus the explanation of a phenomenon which has taken place
hundreds of times, through Mr Home and through other persons; and, in order to prove
that the spectators of these levitations were not the victims of an optical illusion, they
have often made a mark on the ceiling with a pencil, and people have passed under
them, while they were thus held up in the air.
81. We alluded, just now, to the possible augmentation of the weight of bodies; a phenomenon which sometimes occurs, and which is no more
anomalous-than the resistance of the receiver under the pressure of the atmospheric
column. Under the influence of certain mediums, we 'have seen objects, light in
themselves, offer the same sort of resistance, and, immediately afterwards, yield to the
slightest effort. In the experiment mentioned above, the receiver does not really weigh
more or less, but it appears heavier or lighter, through the action of the exterior agent to
which it is submitted; it is probably the same with the table, which has always the same
intrinsic weight (for its mass has not increased), but an extraneous agent opposes its
movement, and this agent may very well be the surrounding fluids by which it is pene-
trated, just as the air is the agent which augments or diminishes the apparent weight of
the receiver. Try the experiment of the air-pump in the presence of an ignorant peasant,
who does not understand that it is the air (invisible, and therefore incomprehensible by
him), which acts, and you would have little difficulty in persuading him that the devil
has something to do with it.
It may, perhaps, be said that, the vital fluid being imponderable, its
accumulation cannot augment the weight of an object agreed ; but let it be understood
that, in using the word accumulation, we did so by way of comparison, and not as
implying similarity between that fluid and air. You say it is imponderable. Be it so;
nevertheless, nothing proves this to be the case ; its essential nature is unknown to us,
and we are far from being cognisant of all its properties. Before experiment had
proved the weight of the air, we had no suspicion of the effects of that weight.
Electricity is also ranged among the imponderable fluids; nevertheless, a body may be
kept down by an electric current, so as to offer very great resistance to any one who
would raise it, and will thus appear to have become heavier. Because, in the
phenomenon referred to, we cannot see any means of support, it would be very illogical
to assert that no support exists; for a spirit may make use of levers
unknown to us. Nature shows us, daily, that her power goes beyond the testimony of
We can only explain, as the result of a similar action, another singular
phenomenon often witnessed by us, viz., that of a young and delicate woman lifting,
with a couple of fingers, as easily as she would a feather, a robust, heavy man, together
with the chair on which he sits.
The intermittent action of this power, moreover, affords additional proof of its
being due to a cause independent of the person by whom it is manifested.