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Second Sight: A study of Natural and Induced Clairvoyance by Sepharial


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It would perhaps be premature to make any definite pronouncement as to the scientific position in regard to the psychic phenomenon known as "scrying," and certainly presumptuous on my part to cite an authority from among the many who have examined this subject, since all are not agreed upon the nature and source of the observed phenomena. Their names are, moreover, already identified with modern scientific research and theory, so that to associate them with experimental psychology would be to lend colour to the idea that modern science has recognized this branch of knowledge. Nothing, perhaps, is further from the fact, and while it cannot in any way be regarded as derogatory to the highest scientist to be associated with others, of less scientific attainment but of equal integrity, in this comparatively new field of enquiry, it may lead to popular error to institute a connection. It is still fresh in the mind how the Darwinian hypothesis was utterly misconceived by the popular mind, the suggestion that man was descended from the apes being generally quoted as a correct expression of Darwin's theory, whereas he never suggested any such thing, but that man and the apes had a common ancestor, which makes of the ape rather a degenerate lemur than a human ancestor. Other and more prevalent errors will occur to the reader, these being due to the use of what is called "the evidence of the senses"; and of all criteria the evidence of sensation is perhaps the most faulty. Logical inference from deductive or inductive reasoning has often enough been a good monitor to sense-perception, and has, moreover, pioneered the man of science to correct knowledge on more than one occasion. But as far as we know or can learn from the history of human knowledge, our senses have been the chiefest source of error. It is with considerable caution that the scientist employs the evidence from sense alone, and in the study of experimental psychology it is the sense which has first to be corrected, and which, in fact, forms the great factor in the equation. A person informs me that he can see a vision in the crystal ball before him, and although I am in the same relation with the "field" as he, I cannot see anything except accountable reflections. This fact does not give any room for contradicting him or any right to infer that it is all imagination. It is futile to say the vision does not exist. If he sees it, it does exist so far as he is concerned. There is no more a universal community of sensation than of thought. When I am at work my own thought is more real than any impression received through the sense organs. It is louder than the babel of voices or the strains of instrumental music, and more conspicuous than any object upon which the eye may fall. These external impressions are admitted or shut out at will. I then know that my thought is as real as my senses, that the images of thought are as perceptible as those exterior to it and in every way as objective and real. The thought-form has this advantage, however, that it can be given a durable or a temporary existence, and can be taken about with me without being liable to impost as "excess luggage." In the matter of evidence in psychological questions, therefore, sense perceptions are only second-rate criteria and ought to be received with caution.

Almost all persons dream, and while dreaming they see and hear, touch and taste, without questioning for a moment the reality of these experiences. The dreaming person loses sight of the fact that he is in a bedroom of a particular house, that he has certain relations with others sleeping in the same house. He loses sight of the fact that his name is, let us say, Henry, and that he is famous for the manufacture of a particular brand of soap or cheese. For him, and as long as it lasts, the dream is the one reality. Now the question of the philosopher has always been: which is the true dream, the sleeping dream or the waking dream? The fact that the one is continuous of itself while the other is not, and that we always fall into a new dream but always wake to the same reality, has given a permanent value to the waking or external life, and an equally fictitious one to the interior or dreaming life. But what if the dream life became more or less permanent to the exclusion of all other memories and sensations? We should then get a case of insanity in which hallucination would be symptomic. (The dream state is more or less permanent with certain poetical temperaments, and if there is any insanity attaching to it at all, it consists in the inability to react.) Imagination, deep thought and grief are as much anaesthetic as chloroform. But the closing of the external channels of sensation is usually the signal for the opening of the psychic, and from all the evidence it would seem that the psychic sense is more extensive, acuter and in every way more dependable than the physical. I never yet have met the man or woman whose impaired eyesight required that he or she should use glasses in order to see while asleep. That they do see is common experience, and that they see farther, and therefore better, with the psychic sense than with the physical has been often proved. Emanuel Swedenborg saw a fire in Stockholm when he was resident in England and gave evidence of it before the vision was confirmed by news from Sweden. A lady of my acquaintance saw and described a fire taking place at a country seat about 150 miles away, the incident being true to the minutest details, many of which were exceptional and in a single instance tragic. The psychic sense is younger than the physical, as the soul is younger than the body, and its faculty continues unimpaired long after old age and disease have made havoc of the earthly vestment. The soul is younger at a thousand years than the body is at sixty. Let it be admitted upon evidence that there are two sorts of sense perception, the physical and the psychical, and that in some persons the latter is as much in evidence as the former. We have to enquire then what relations the crystal or other medium has to the development and exercise of the clairvoyant faculty. We know comparatively little about atomic structure in relation to nervous organism. The atomicity of certain chemical bodies does not inform us as to why one should be a deadly poison and another perfectly innocuous. We regard different bodies as congeries of atoms, but it is a singular fact that of two bodies containing exactly the same elements in the same proportions the one is poisonous and the other harmless. The only difference between them is the atomic arrangement.