15. It may be asked, “If these horrors do not really exist, how can they have been seen by ecstatics, even in a state of trance?” This is not the place for explaining the source of the fantastic images that are sometimes produced to the consciousness of the spirit, with all the appearances of reality. * We can here only remark that the fact of their production proves the truth of the principle laid down by us,** viz., that trance is the least reliable of all the modes of revelation, because this state of super-excitement is not always the result of a complete disengagement of the soul from the body, but is often complicated with reflexes of the subjects with which the mind of the seer has been busied in his waking state. The ideas that have been assimilated by the spirit of the seer, and of which his physical brain, or, rather, the perispiritual envelope corresponding to the brain has preserved the impress, are reproduced in trance but distorted as though in a mirage under vaporous and shadowy forms that cross each other, blend together, and make up unreal and fantastic pictures. The visions of ecstatics of all religions are always conformed to the religious belief with which they are imbued; and it is therefore not surprising that those who, like Saint Theresa, are strongly imbued with theological ideas of Hell, as conveyed by verbal or written descriptions and by paintings, should have visions which are, properly speaking, only the reproduction of these ideas and which partake of the nature of nightmare. A Pagan ecstatic, if he believed in the creed of his day would have seen in trance Tartarus and its Furies, just as in a vision of Olympus he would have seen Jupiter holding the thunderbolts in his hand.
* Vide “The Mediums’ Book,” No. 113. – Tr. 17
** Vide “The Spirits’ Book,” Nos. 443, 444.