22. The perispirit is the connecting link between corporeal and spiritual life. By it the incarnate is in continual rapport with the discarnate. In short, it is by it that special phenomena are accomplished in man, the first cause of which is not found in tangible matter, and which for this reason seem supernatural.
It is necessary to seek for the cause of second or spiritual sight in the properties and radiations of perispiritual fluids, which can also be called psychic sight, with which many persons are endowed, as well as another called somnambulic sight, often unknown to them.
The perispirit is the sensitive organ of the spirit. It is by its intermediation that the incarnate obtains the perception of spiritual things which escape carnal sense. By it the organs of the body – sight, hearing, and the diverse sensations – are localized and limited to the perception of material things. By the spiritual sense or psychic, they are generalized. The spirit sees, hears, and feels through all his being, that which is in the sphere of the radiation of his perispiritual fluid.
These phenomena are, with man, the manifestation of the spiritual life. It is the soul which acts outside the organism. In second sight, or perception by the psychic sense, objects are not seen by the material eye, although by habit it often directs them towards the point to which attention is diverted. The clairvoyant sees with the soul’s eyes; and the proof of it is that he sees all as well with the eyes closed as open, and also beyond the compass of the visual radius. He reads the thought stamped in the fluidic radius (n° 15). *
* See facts in regard to double sight and somnambulic lucidity reported in the “Revue Spirite” of Jan., 1858, p. 25; Nov., 1858, p. 513; July, 1861, p. 197; Nov., 1865, p. 352.
23. Although, during life, the spirit is chained to the body by the perispirit, it is not such a slave that it cannot lengthen its chain, and transport itself to afar in some point in space or upon the Earth. The spirit is only with regret attached to the body, because his normal life is liberty, whilst the corporeal one is like that of a serf bound to the soil.
The spirit is then as happy to leave his body as the bird is to leave its cage. It seizes all occasions for freeing itself from it, and profits by all instances where its presence is not necessary to the relation of life. It is the phenomenon designated under the name of emancipation of the soul. It takes place in sleep. Every time that the body reposes and the senses are inactive, the spirit releases itself. (See “The Spirits’ Book,” chap. 8.)
In these moments the spirit sees spiritual life, whilst the body sees only vegetative life. It is partially in the state in which it will be after death; it passes through space, converses with friends, and other free or incarnated spirits like itself.
The fluidic-link which holds it to the body is not broken until death. A complete separation does not take place until the absolute extinction of the activity of the vital principle. So long as the body lives, the spirit, at whatever distance it may be, is instantly recalled to it as soon as its presence is necessary; then it resumes its relation with the course of exterior life. Sometimes, upon the awakening of the body, it preserves the remembrance of its peregrinations, – an impression more or less distinct, which constitutes a dream. It is en rapport, in all cases, with the intuitions which are suggested to it by new thoughts and ideas, and justify the proverb, “Night brings counsel and advice.”
Thus are also explained certain characteristic phenomena of natural and magnetic somnambulism, catalepsy, lethargy, ecstasy, etc., and which are none other than manifestations of spiritual life. *
* See examples of lethargy and catalepsy: “Revue Spirite,” Madame Schwabenhaus, Sept., 1858, p. 255; The Young Cataleptic of Souabe, Jan., 1866, p. 18.
24. Since spiritual sight is not given through the eyes of the flesh, the perception of things is not given by any ordinary light; indeed, material light is made for the material world. For the spiritual world there exists a special luminary, the nature of which is unknown to us, but which is, without doubt, one of the properties of the ethereal fluid affected by the visual perceptions of the soul. There is, then, material and spiritual light. The first has circumscribed focuses from luminous bodies; the second has its focus everywhere; therefore, there are no obstacles to spiritual sight. It is neither arrested by distance nor by the opacity of matter, nothing dims it. The spiritual world is then illuminated by a spiritual light which has its characteristic power, as the material world has its solar light.
25. The soul enveloped in its perispirit carries thus in it its luminous principle. Penetrating matter by virtue of its ethereal essence, there are no opaque bodies to its vision.
However, the spiritual sight has not the same penetration or extent with all spirits. The pure spirits alone possess it in all its power. With inferior ones it is weakened by the coarseness of the perispirit, which interposes itself like a fog.
It manifests itself in different degrees with incarnates by the phenomenon of second sight, whether in a natural or magnetic somnambulism, or in a waking state. According to the power of the faculty is the lucidity, more or less great. By the aid of this faculty some persons see the interior of the organism, and describe the cause of maladies.
26. Spiritual sight gives, then, special perceptions, which, being not seated in the material organs, operate by conditions totally different from the corporeal sight. For the same reason one cannot expect identical effects, or experiment with it by the same means. Being accomplished outside of the organism, it has a mobility which baffles all foresight. It is necessary to study all its causes and effects, and not by assimilation with ordinary sight, which it is not intended to supply, except in exceptional cases, which must not be taken as a rule.
27. Spiritual sight is necessarily incomplete and imperfect with incarnates, therefore subject to aberrations. Having its seat in the soul itself, the state of the soul must sway the perceptions it gives. According to the degree of its development, the circumstances and moral state of the individual, it can give either in sleep or in a waking state:
1st- The perception of certain material, real facts, as the knowledge of events that are happening afar; descriptive details of a locality, the causes of disease, and the proper remedies.
2nd- The perceptions of things equally real in the spirit world, as a sight of spirits.
3rd- Fantastic images created by the imagination, analogous to fluidic creations of thought (see item n° 14 of this chapter).
These creations are always in relation with the moral disposition of the spirit who gives birth to them. Thus, to persons very strongly imbued and preoccupied with religious beliefs, hell is presented with its furnaces, its tortures, its demons, such as they imagine them to be. Sometimes it is an epic poem. The pagans saw Olympus and the Tartarean depths, as the Christians see Paradise and Hell. If, upon awakening of coming out of ecstasy, these persons preserve a distinct remembrance of their visions, they take it for the reality and confirmation of their belief, while it is only a product of their own thoughts. * It is necessary to make a rigorous selection from amongst the visions we see in a state of ecstasy, before accepting them. On this subject, the remedy for an excessive credulity is the study of the laws which govern the spiritual world.
* The visions of sister Elmerich can thus be explained, who, carrying herself back to the time of the passion of Christ, is said to have seen material things which have only existed in the books which she has read; also those of Madame Cantonille (“Revue Spirite,” Aug., 1866, p. 240), and a part of Swedenborg.
28. In their essence, dreams present all three characteristics of the visions described above. Prophetic dreams, presentments and warnings belong to the first two categories. * Under the third category, that is, in the fluidic creations of thought, we can find the causes for certain fantastic images, which have nothing real for the corporeal life, but that has, for the spirit, such a clear reality that the body suffers the blows (upon being hit), and one’s hair turn white under the impression of a dream. Such creations can be provoked by an exaggerated credulity, retrospective recollections, or by likes, desires, passions, fear, and remorse; it can also be caused by habitual worries, or because of the body’s needs, or still by a malfunction of the organism; finally, it can also be caused by other spirits with good or bad intentions, according to their nature. **
* See ahead, chapter XVI on Theory of Prescience, n° 1, 2 & 3.
** “Revue Spirite,” June of 1866, pg. 172; September of 1866, pg. 284; “The Spirit’s Book,” chapter VIII, question n° 400.