40. The phenomena of moving and communicating by means of turning tables, the ethereal raising of heavy bodies, of mediumistic writing (as ancient as the world, but common today), give the key to many spontaneous, analogous phenomena, to which, by ignorance of the law which governs them, they attribute to a supernatural and miraculous character. These phenomena rest upon the properties of the perispiritual fluid of either incarnate beings or free spirits.
41. It is by the aid of its perispirit that the spirit acts upon his living body. It is with this same fluid that it manifests itself by acting upon inert matter; that it produces sounds, movement of tables, and raises, overturns, or transports other objects. There is nothing surprising in these phenomena if one considers that with us the most powerful motors are found in the most rarefied and even imponderable fluids, like air, vapor, and electricity.
It is equally by the aid of his perispirit that the spirit enables mediums to speak, write, or sketch. Having no tangible body to manifest, he serves himself with the body of the medium, from which he borrows the organs and uses as if it were his own, obtaining possession of it by the fluidic-effluvium which he throws around it.
42. By the same means the spirit acts upon the table, either to make it simply to move, or give intelligent raps, indicating the letters of the alphabet, in order to form words or phrases, a phenomenon named “typtology.” Here the table is only an instrument for use, as a pencil in writing. It gives to it a momentary vitality by the fluid with which it penetrates it; but it does not identify itself with it. Persons who, in their emotion at being able to communicate with spirits dear to them, embrace the table perform a foolish act; for it is absolutely the same as if they should embrace the stick which a friend uses to make the raps. It is equivalent to saying that the spirit was enclosed in the wood of the table, or that the wood had become a spirit.
When communications like these take place, it is necessary to represent the spirit as not in the table, but beside us as he was in life; and thus they would see him if their spiritual eyes were open. The same takes place when one obtains communications by writing; one would see the spirit beside the medium, directing or transmitting to him his ideas by a fluidic-current.
43. When the table is detached from the ground and floats in space without support, the spirit does not raise it by arm-strength, but by enveloping and penetrating it with a sort of fluidic-atmosphere, which neutralizes the effect of gravitation, as the air does for balloons and kites. The fluid with which it is permeated gives a momentarily greater specific lightness. When it is nailed to the ground, it is in a condition analogous to that of the pneumatic receiver under which the air is exhausted. These comparisons here are only to show the analogy of effects, and not the absolute similitude of causes (“The Mediums’ Book,” chap. 4).
One can comprehend, after this, that it is no more difficult to raise a person than a table, to transport an object from one place to another, than to throw it somewhere. These phenomena are produced by the same law. *
When the table pursues a person, it is not the spirit who runs, for he can remain calmly in the same place; but, by the aid of his will, he gives the fluidic-current an impulsion.
When the raps are heard on a table or elsewhere, the spirit does not rap with his hand or with any instrument whatever; he directs upon the point whence the noise proceeds a stream of fluid, which produces the effect of an electric shock. He changes the sound, as sounds produced by air can be modified. **
* Such is the principle of the phenomena of levitation, or the rising of bodies upwards, and suspension in the air, with no visible means of support, – an actual phenomenon, but which must be accepted with extreme reserve; for it is one which lends itself the most to imposture and jugglery. The absolute worthiness of the person who obtains them, his entire material and moral disinterestedness, and the cooperation of accessory circumstances, must be taken into serious consideration. It is necessary to distrust the too great facility with which these effects are produced, and to be doubtful of those who renew them too frequently, as it were, by willpower. The prestidigitators do most extraordinary things.
The raising of a person into mid-air is a fact no less positive, but much more rare, perhaps, because it is more difficult to imitate. It is generally known that Mr. Home has been more than once elevated to the ceiling in this manner, making the tour of the hall. St. Cupertin is said to have had this same power, which is no more miraculous in one than in the other.
** Examples of material manifestations and perturbations by the Spirits: “Revue Spirite,” Young Girl of Panoramas, Jan., 1858, p. 13; Miss Clairon, Feb., 1858, p. 44; Spirit-Rapper of Bergzabern, complete account, May, June, and July of 1858, pp. 125, 153, 184; Dibbelsdorf, Aug., 1858, p. 219; Boulanger of Dieppe, March, 1860, p. 76; Merchant of St. Petersburg, April 1860, p. 115; Noyers St., Aug., 1860, p. 236; Spirit-Rapper of Aube, Jan., 1861, p. 23; id., in the 16th century, Jan., 1864, p. 32; Poitiers, May, 1864, p. 156, and May, 1865, p. 134; Sister Mary, June, 1864, p. 185; Marseilles, April, 1865, p. 121; Fives, Aug., 1865, p. 225; The Rats of Equihem, Feb., 1866, p. 55.
44. A phenomenon which is very common in mediumship is the aptitude of certain mediums to write in a language which is unknown to them, – to speak or write upon subjects outside their knowledge. It is not rare to see those who write rapidly without having learned to write; others still who become poets, without ever having before composed a line of poetry; others sketch, paint, sculpt, compose music, play on an instrument, without having previously known anything of either accomplishment. Very frequently the writing-medium reproduces the writing and signature of the spirits communicating by him, although he had never known them in Earth-life.
This phenomenon is not more wonderful than to see a child write when someone conducts his hand. One can thus perform all that one wishes. Any person could write in any language whatever by dictating the words letter by letter. It is the same with mediumship. Mediums are only passive instruments in the spirit’s hands. But if the medium possesses a knowledge of the mechanism of it, if the expressions are familiar to him, if he has, in short, in his brain the elements of that which the spirit desires him to execute, he is in the position of the man who knows how to read and write rapidly. The work is easier and more rapid. The spirit has only to transmit the thought that his interpreter reproduces by means at his disposal.
The aptitude of a medium in things which are strange to him is often caused by the knowledge he has obtained in another existence, of which his spirit has preserved the intuition. If he has been a poet or a musician, for example, his mind will the more readily grasp the poetical and musical ideas which they wish to reproduce. The language of which he is now ignorant may have been familiar to him in another existence; hence he has a greater aptitude as a writing-medium in this language. *
* The aptitude of certain persons for languages which they have never learned is caused by an intuitive remembrance of that which they have learned in another existence. The example of the poet Mery, reported in the “Revue Spirite” of Nov., 1864, p. 328, is a proof of it. It is evident, that, if Mr. Mery had been a medium in his youth, he would have written in Latin as easily as in French, and would have been called a prodigy.