PNEUMATOGRAPHY OR DIRECT WRITING - PNEUMATOPHONY OR
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
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
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.
150. Spirits produce not only noises and rappings, but cries of every kind, and
vocal sounds imitating the human voice, in rooms, and in the open air; phenomena
which we designate as pneumatophony, or spirit-sounds. Our experience of the nature
of spirits has led us to think that some of them, of an inferior order, delude themselves
into the belief that they are talking, as when in the flesh. (See the Revue Spirite,
February 1858 ; History of Mademoiselle Clairon's Ghost.)
We must be careful not to take all sounds, the cause of which we know not, or
mere tingling of the ears, for occult voices, any more than to share the silly fancy that,
when our ears tingle, some one is talking about us. Those tinglings, which have a
purely physiological cause, are without meaning; while pneumatophonic sounds
express thoughts, and thereby prove themselves to be due to an intelligent cause, and
not to accident. We may lay it down as a rule that spirit-intervention is only proved by
intelligent manifestations, in all other cases, there are a hundred chances to one that
what are taken for such are really due to fortuitous causes.
151. It often happens that, when we are asleep, we hear words, names,
sometimes entire phrases, pronounced with sufficient force and distinctness to waken
'15 with a start. Although, in some cases, this may be a spirit-manifestation, it is often
attributable to the cause of which we treated in our remarks on hallucination (Chap. VI.
III, et seq.) What is thus heard has usually no coherence, thus differing widely from
spirit-utterances, heard when we are awake ; for in such cases, we Can usually exchange thoughts with the speaker and enter into regular
conversation with him.
There are two very distinct ways in which spirit-sounds are perceived; they are
sometimes heard by a sort of interior hearing, in which case, although the words heard
are clear and distinct, they are not of a physical nature; at other times, these voices are
perceived as something exterior to ourselves, and appear to be as distinctly articulated
as though spoken by a person at our side.
However produced, the phenomenon of pneumatophony is almost always
spontaneous, and can rarely be obtained by evocation.