Read PART IX - MEDIUMISTIC PHENOMENA of Genuine Mediumship / The Invisible Powers, free online book, by Bhakta Vishita, on ReadCentral.com.

Some students of this book who have noted in the foregoing pages certain references to the conduct of the sitters in the circle may ask themselves the question: “Why are the sitters so important, when the power is really exerted by the spirits through the medium?” In fact, such questions, often uttered in the spirit of adverse criticism, are frequently propounded by sceptics to spiritualists, and it is well that the answer should be correctly given. As a matter of fact the understanding of such answer will mean the possession of some important facts concerning the phenomena of mediumship, and without which the investigator will possibly wander far astray from the main road of truth concerning such phenomena.

The Part Played by the Sitters.

All of the best authorities on the subject of spiritualism are practically agreed concerning the important part played by the sitters in the circle in all manifestations of spirit power. As J. J. Morse says: “There are three factors concerned in mediumship: (1) the spirit controlling; (2) the mental atmosphere of the medium controlled; and (3) the mental atmosphere of the people surrounding the medium.” And as A. Morton has said: “The requirements for honesty on the part of mediums are equally binding upon investigators; they must have honesty of purpose if they expect to attract honest spirits.”

Result of Bad Sitters.

And Wallis has said: “Although the spirits may be intensely anxious to demonstrate their power, they are sometimes repelled from those whom they seek to approach by the bristling and discordant conditions of mind that prevail among the sitters, who disperse with a feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment. If the sitters only knew it, the so-called failure was directly traceable to the destructive thought-atmosphere with which they surround themselves and the medium. Too frequently they do not prepare themselves for ’the hour’s communion with the dead,’ and their mental attitude is anything but conductive to success. They do not put away the thronging thoughts, anxieties, and worries of their busy lives, but carry them right into the séance chamber, yet expect good spiritual results. Both sitter and medium may very easily destroy the indispensable conditions of spirit-manifestation, and the medium’s honesty, not his want of growth, or of knowledge, is called in question by the investigator who knows, and perhaps cares, nothing for the occult laws he has violated, not obeyed.”

Mental Atmosphere of the Medium.

Likewise, it must not be forgotten that an important factor in the production of mediumistic phenomena is that which Morse, in the above quotation, has called “the mental atmosphere of the medium controlled.” In many cases the spirit powers are present and ready to manifest freely, and the mental atmosphere of the sitters is likewise desirable and sympathetic, but still the manifestations are but faint, irregular, and generally unsatisfying the weak link of the chain being found in the mental state of the medium, and consequently in the mental atmosphere arising from the same. Such undesirable mental states and atmospheres may be said to arise principally from two general causes, as follows: (1) Desire on the part of the medium to produce sensational or brilliant results, and (2) Doubt on the part of the medium concerning the genuineness and validity of the communications. Let us consider each of these in further detail.

The Mediumistic Mind.

If the medium is filled with the idea or notion of producing brilliant or sensational results, he will in all probability so disturb the placidity of the receiving surface of his mind that the latter will fail to register or record the impressions being made upon it by the spirit vibrations. It is similar to the case of a placid bosom of a deep lake which, normally, will reflect clearly and distinctly the images of the surrounding scenery cast upon it from the light waves; but which, if disturbed by strong breezes, will exhibit merely a distorted, disturbed, incomplete, and untrue reflection of the surrounding scenery cast upon its surface. A strong desire of the kind mentioned will tend to agitate and disturb the normal placid condition of the mental reflecting surface of the mediumistic mind.

Mediumistic “Stage Fright.”

In the same way the placid reflecting surface of the mediumistic mind may become disturbed by the presence of fear, doubt, and distrust in the mind of the medium. It may at first seem strange that the medium should doubt the manifestations being made through his mentality, provided that he be honest and genuine. But the answer and explanation is very simple. The medium (particularly the young medium) may become panic-stricken by the thought that “perhaps this is merely the result of my own imagination or fancy, instead of spirit power,” and the result will be that he will begin to halt and stumble, stammer and stutter, instead of allowing the message to flow through him uninterrupted. This is particularly true when the message is of the nature of a test of identity, and where the vocal organs of the medium are being employed in the manifestation. It occurs far more frequently than the public suppose, that the medium is stricken by stage-fright or the panic of fear, arising from the causes above given, i.e. the sudden fear that he is allowing his fanciful imagination to run away with him instead of his being under genuine control.

The Psychic Telephone System.

The medium should ever strive to guard against this harmful mental state, and should open himself completely to the spirit influence, casting aside all fear and doubt, and placing all responsibility upon the controlling spirit or band of helpers. The medium should remember that he is merely the “medium” or psychic telephone system, and is not an active party to the process of spirit communication. He should, therefore, never either unduly strive to please, nor be fearful or distrustful concerning the validity of the manifestation being made through him. Let the spirits attend to their end of the line, and the sitters to the other end the medium is on neither end of the line, but is the line itself.

Interrupted Communications.

It should not be forgotten, in this connection, that the spirits have their own difficulties to contend with. In the current slang phrase, they “have troubles of their own” to overcome in the production of mediumistic phenomena. Not only does the spirit wishing to communicate have to draw sufficient psychic power from the medium and the sitters, not only has he to scientifically adjust the apparatus at the sending end of the psychic telephonic line, but he has also to be sure that he is actually communicating the message so that it may be received by the sitters. In such cases the spirit is placed in a position similar to that of a person at one end of a telephone line, who after had an answer to his opening “Hello!” talks away, thinking that the person at the other end is hearing every word he utters, perfectly unconscious that the communication has been interrupted from some cause or other common to telephone lines. How often do we, in our telephone conversations, interrupt our flow of talk to anxiously inquire, “Are you still there?” or “Do you hear me?”

Some Difficulties of the Spirits.

A writer on the subject has well said regarding this difficulty on the part of the communicating spirit: “Spirits have many difficulties to overcome.” On one occasion, a medium felt the influence of an arisen friend very strongly. It was accompanied by an intense desire to speak, and yet the medium was unable to give utterance to that which the spirit wished to have said. In answer to an inquiry that was subsequently made as to why the spirit had been unable to communicate with his dear ones, one of the familiar controls of the medium explained that he thought that he had actually spoken. His feeling of nearness to them was so vivid, and his wish to express himself through the lips of the medium had been so intense, that it was only after he had ceased his efforts to control that he realized that he had only thought and intended, but had not succeeded in compelling the sensitive to utter his message. This will perhaps explain why mediums sometimes rise to their feet and act as if they were about to speak, but get no further they do not receive the impression, or the right mental impulse; they feel as if they could speak and yet they have nothing to say. At such times a few words of sympathy and inquiry from the conductor of the circle may assist the control to realize the situation and succeed in his endeavors to communicate.

Difficulties Overcome.

“Even on this side, when we send telegraphic messages or use the telephone, mistakes and misunderstandings are by no means uncommon occurrences, and our letters sometimes create an impression in the mind of the reader which we did not intend to convey. Is it any wonder, then, that messages from the other side are imperfectly impressed upon, and incorrectly rendered by, the medium? Most persons who have attempted to transfer thoughts to mesmerized sensitives have realized that general ideas can be transmitted much more easily than names, dates, or specific words can be impressed upon or expressed by the subject. The wonder is, not that so few names, ages, and special details are given by spirits to and through mediums, but that, considering all the attendant circumstances, so many ‘test’ messages are continually being given, both privately and in public.”

The Psychic Triangle.

In considering the question of the requisites of the mediumistic circle, the student should remember always that there is A psychic triangle in all such circles, viz., a triangle of which the spirit constitutes one side, the medium a second side, and the sitters a third side. And it is essential that a harmony and sympathy between all three sides of the triangle should be preserved and maintained. Therefore, sitters at the circle should endeavor to do their part in producing and maintaining such harmony with both the medium, the spirits, and finally with each other and this last is not the least, by any means. Unless there be at least a very fair degree of harmony between the several members constituting the circle, there will be something important lacking in their harmony of the circle as a whole toward the other two sides of the psychical triangle.

Harmonious Relationship.

The sitters composing the circle should always remember that mutual harmony is a most important factor contributing to the success of the manifestations sought to be secured. Accordingly, each sitter should strive to bring himself or herself into a sympathetic and harmonious relationship with each and every other sitter, so far as is possible. To accomplish this result the sitters should endeavor, so far as is possible, to lay aside their respective prejudices, jealousies, and differences of opinion. These incidents of their personality should be left, together with their hats and outer wraps, in the outer hall of the house in which the séance is held. Differences of religion, politics, race and creed, all should be cast aside at least temporarily, in order that the greatest amount of harmony should be manifested by the group. A safe rule to follow is this: seek to find the largest number of points of mutual agreement, and to set aside all the rest of the items of personal tastes, customs and habits of feeling and thought. Dwell together on the plane of common agreement, shutting out the planes of respective disagreements. In this connection we should state that the customary attitude of cold reserve, blended and colored by suspicion, which too often is found between comparative strangers, is far from being helpful in producing the best conditions for the séance. For the time being, at least, the sitters should try to remember that they are all members of one great human family, and united by the bonds of common origin and nature.

The Discordant Note.

A writer recites an incident in a circle which he once attended, which so thoroughly illustrates the point just made, that we think it worth while to reproduce it here. He says: “On one occasion in particular, we had a remarkable illustration of the detrimental influence of one or two sitters. It occurred at a séance at which a number of mediums were present, and, under ordinary circumstances, successful results would have been practically certain; but this was not an ordinary séance at least, not in the opinion of one lady who apparently imagined that she had been invited to discover fraud, and that the rest of us were suspicious characters. Up to the moment of her appearance in the circle we were a happy family of sociable folk, and enjoyed a very pleasant season of conversational interchange. When, however, the said lady, accompanied by a friend, joined the company, there was a silence that could be felt. The social temperature fell rapidly people visibly stiffened and became constrained. The two ladies appeared to feel afraid to speak lest they should say anything that might be used by the mediums, and spoke in monosyllables. Sitting bolt upright, grim and silent, they drew up to the table, and when the phenomena began they displayed no signs of interest. Their ‘detective’ attitude was so objectionable that even those who had endeavored to thaw out these self-constituted Sherlock Holmeses, gave up the attempt, and, in consequence, what had promised to be a really enjoyable evening, proved one of the most uncomfortable it has been our lot to experience.”

Antagonistic Elements.

Another incident of the kind is related by a writer, as follows: “On one occasion, when some experiments were being made by a medium, under control, in the direction of psychometry and clairvoyance, a lady expressed a desire to be the subject for delineation. After one or two efforts the medium exclaimed, ’I am very sorry, but for some reason I am quite unable to get anything from you, or for you.’ Shortly afterwards the lady in question remarked to one of the sitters, ’I knew he would not be able to give me anything. That is the third medium that I have knocked out.’ The failure to obtain results under such impossible conditions is a proof of the genuine psychic nature of the powers of the mediums. If they were pretenders they would succeed in doing something under any circumstances and in spite of such adverse psychic conditions.” While we are far from holding that the sitters in a circle should lay aside all ordinary caution and good judgment, and instead to assume the mental attitude of utter and unquestioning credulity and acceptance, we do positively declare that the mental state of preconceived distrust and suspicion is often almost fatal to the production and demonstration of the highest manifestations of spirit phenomena.

The Open Mind.

The proper mental state of the scientific investigator of spiritualistic phenomena is that of “the open mind.” The sitters should endeavor to lay aside all prejudices and preconceived conceptions, and in place thereof should endeavor to hold a fair, impartial mental attitude and this accompanied by a desire to have the manifestations proceed naturally, freely and fully. The results should be sympathetically awaited and received, and the judgment of careful reasoning withheld until afterward when the whole proceedings may be recalled and considered in the light of cold reason. One has but to consider the extremely sensitive psychical condition of the mentality of the medium, and the nicely balanced mental atmosphere of the circle, to realize how easily this sensitiveness may be affected, and the nice balance be disturbed, by the projection of strong mental waves of distrust, suspicion, and antagonism into the atmosphere of the circle. The attitude of the intelligent scientific investigator should be that of a calm and observant soul. Such an investigator should have what Sir William Crookes once called “a mind to let,” i.e., a mind from which all prejudices and preconceived theories and notions have been ejected for the time being, and into which Truth, from any source, should always be welcomed as a tenant. Instead of seeking to throw obstacles in the way of the medium, one should endeavor to assist by mental attitude and demeanor, and by observance of the necessary conditions, in the production of the spirit manifestations and in the demonstration of spirit identity.

Spirits and the Sense of Humor.

It is not necessary for the sitters to assume an attitude of preternatural gravity and solemnity. Instead, they should be natural and cheerful, though of course not flippant or trifling, or indulging in an exhibition of the cheap remarks which by so many is mistaken for wit. The sense of humor, however, need not be thrown aside or discarded, for as all investigators know many of the spirit visitors have a very highly developed sense of humor, and sometimes even go so far as to seemingly endeavor to shock some of the melancholy, over-serious, “prunes and prism” type of sitters. As a writer well says: “Spirits are human still, and a good, breezy laugh, a hearty, joyous, kindly sympathetic disposition, goes a long way to open the avenues by which they can approach us.” Another has said: “Experience has taught that the spiritual circle should be presided over by ’a pure heart and a strong head’ to which qualities might well be added a well-ordered development of the sense of humor, for the absence of humor often tends to make philosophy grotesquely ill-proportioned.”

Rhythmic Harmony.

The manifestation of rhythmic harmony often materially aids in the generation of psychic power, and the consequent production of advantageous conditions at the circle. Many circles are opened by having the several sitters indulge in harmonious rhythmic breathing for a few minutes all breathing in unison in order to produce this condition of rhythm. Those who have never practiced this unison of rhythmic breathing will be surprised at the consciousness of psychical harmony which may be produced in this way among a number of persons gathered together in a circle. This principle of rhythm is what is really involved in the call of many spirits for singing at the beginning of a séance. In singing there is a certain unison and rhythm unconsciously observed, and it is this rather than the air or words of the songs which produces the desire conditions. A writer states that upon one occasion a manifesting spirit said: “It isn’t noise that I want; it’s harmony! If you cannot sing, you can at least count out loud, and count altogether that may give us the right vibrations.” That spirit had the right idea, and one which it would be well for all sitters to remember and put into effect. Vibration is the secret of all things, and rhythm is the measure and spirit of all vibrations; therefore, the very harmony of a circle may be said to be rhythmic. There is a great truth involved in these statements, and you will do well to ponder over them.

Retarding Factors.

It should be almost unnecessary to state that haste, hurry and impatience are retarding factors in a spiritualistic séance; but, alas, too many persons seem to be totally unaware of this important fact. We call your attention to the following remarks concerning this point, the same having been made by a writer on the subject who himself is a medium of extended experience. He says: “Impatience and anxiety are disintegrating mental conditions. People who are all the time looking at their watches and thinking, ‘Oh! I wish they would hurry up.’ ’Oh! do be quick, don’t keep us here all night, we shall surely miss our train,’ etc., are disturbers of the peace, and break the conditions which require harmony and repose. ’We have found out that we cannot hurry them,’ said a lady who had enjoyed much experience in circles; and consequently, when you are sitting for different phenomena, you need to have plenty of time and be prepared to sit good humoredly for hours, if need be, to see it through; and then results are likely to speedily ensue; whereas the more you try to hurry, the more anxious you become, the less likelihood is there that you will secure results at all. You can surely realize that hurry, impatience, anxiety, intense expectancy, fear and suspicion must of necessity disturb the conditions and prove inimical to the efforts of the spirit operators to present clear and convincing demonstrations of their power and identity.”

Reasonable Demands of Spirits.

In the above stated instance, and others similar to it, it at first seems as if the spirits were overparticular, and “finnicky” about the conditions, but a little careful thought will show you that this is not the real state of affairs at all. The spirits are not “finnicky,” but are merely desirous of securing the conditions necessary to a successful manifestation, and all their efforts are bent toward that end. This, and this alone, is the cause of their so-called “finnickiness.” Surely they are justified in this would not any and all of us feel the same way if we were trying to establish communications with another plane, where such communication largely dependent upon the production and maintenance of certain conditions? I think so.

Harmonious Conditions.

It is not an easy task to give specific directions for development of mediumistic power for the guidance of one who is desirous of unfolding such powers after they have first manifested their presence in him. In fact, as many of the best authorities on the subject agree, it is practically impossible to lay out a course of cut-and-dried directions of this kind. This arises logically from the conditions present in such cases, and from the special circumstances surrounding the subject of mediumship. In fact, it may be broadly stated that at the beginning the medium can do but little in the direction of such development, other than to present harmonious conditions through which the spirits may be able to manifest their presence and their power.

The Channel of Communication.

It must be always remembered that the medium is not the active agent in the production of mediumistic phenomena he is not called to do anything except to passively act as the medium or channel of communication between the two planes of existence. He is always the intermediary between the two planes, and is not the active agent on either plane. The active agents are the spirits on the one plane, and the sitters in the circle on the other plane. The sitters must supply much of the actual operative power from the one plane, and the spirits must do all of the communication from the other plane. The medium serves to connect the two opposite ends of the psychic telephone system so that the messages may pass through and over the mediumistic channel, secure and maintain the best psychic conditions.

The Rôle of the Spirits.

We have spoken of the part of the work which it is necessary for the sitters to perform in order to And now we shall have something to say concerning the part to be played properly by the spirits wishing to communicate. It must not be supposed for a moment that every spirit is possessed of the necessary knowledge enabling it to communicate easily through a medium, or even to develop the medium so that he may become an efficient channel of communication. Spirits are frequently found to be sadly deficient in such knowledge and experience, and the development of the medium as well as the production of satisfactory phenomena, suffer from this lack. The spirits who seek to use a medium may or may not be fitted for such task. Many spirits are utterly unable to properly develop a medium; some fail by reason of their lack of knowledge, and others fail because of their lack of special aptitude for the task.

Differences Among Spirits.

A writer on this subject well says regarding this particular point: “Some spirits may lack both knowledge and aptitude; others may have the knowledge, but yet fail from want of the power to control. They may be able to affect one mediumistic person and not another. Likewise, they may be able to use a sensitive medium for one phase of mediumship, and yet be unable to succeed in any other direction. A spirit may be in such conditions that he can produce good physical phenomena; he may, however, try to do so through a sensitive who is fitted only for trance or clairvoyant mediumship, but who does not possess the quality or psychic force for sensuous manifestations. A medium who is naturally qualified for physical demonstrations may persist in desiring trance or inspirational mediumship, and be determined to become a speaker or nothing.

Disturbing Elements.

“Frequently at the outset both spirits and sitters are ignorant of their powers, of the conditions necessary for success, and the association that exists between them being affectional rather than intellectual or spiritual, they have to grope their way towards each other. It follows, therefore, that experiments have to be made on both sides. Sitters and young mediums often spoil the séances by over-anxiety. There would not be half so much heard of ‘evil spirits’ (so-called) if more regard were paid to the necessity of maintaining a calm, patient, and serene frame of mind. Some people become excited as soon as phenomena commences; mediums not infrequently get nervous or timid when they feel that they are being affected, and, although they desire to be controlled, they are afraid to submit to the influences when they are likely to lose consciousness. All these are disturbing elements, and naturally interfere with the flow of the forces that are to be utilized, and prevent the success that is desired. A spirit without any very definite purpose, finding himself in the presence of a mediumistic person, may seek to influence him, and spasmodic actions may result. Unless the control should soon give evidence of clear thought and definite purpose, he should be requested, in a kindly and courteous manner, to seek the assistance of some spirit who understands the methods to be employed, and induce him to exert his power for the benefit of the medium and the circle.”

Impersonation Mediumship.

One of the most interesting phases of mediumship, and the one perhaps most sought after by earnest seekers of the truth concerning those who have passed over to a higher plane of existence, is that commonly known as “impersonation mediumship,” or perhaps “impersonating test mediumship,” in which the vocal organs of the medium are employed by the communicating spirit in order to speak directly to those in the circle, or to the visiting friend of the decarnate spirit who comes into the presence of the medium. Many mediums devote their entire time and attention to this phase of mediumship, and place themselves at the service of those on the earth plane who wish to converse directly with their spirit friends or relatives who have passed on. This is by far the most satisfying phase of mediumship to those on the earth plane who are thus enabled to receive communications, and perhaps even direct answers to specific questions made to them. The most convincing evidences of the identity of the communicating spirit are also obtained through this particular form of mediumship. And this affording of comfort to those still on the earth plane is one of the most satisfying features of mediumship, and one which will do more than aught else to reconcile the medium to annoyances and to the personal sacrifices so often made by the medium.

The True Purpose of Mediumship.

A writer has well given to mediums the following inspiring message concerning the nature, purpose and aims of their work: “The modes of spirit manifestation are many, the phases wonderfully varied, but, like a golden cord running through them all, there is a distinct purpose of bringing to those on earth the glad tidings and proof positive of continued conscious personal experience in the life after death. The process of psychic development is usually slow, and the medium will be likely to grow disheartened; but by looking back over the ground already traversed, and by comparing the faint efforts made at the commencement with the later and fuller indications of spirit power, he should feel encouraged, and proceed with renewed vigor.”

Gradual Development.

The best authorities constantly impress upon young mediums the fact that they should develop their mediumistic powers to a considerable degree before they venture to give public séances or exhibitions of their power. As Dr. Dean Clarke well says: “Novices in mediumship have no business to assume obligations they are not fully qualified to fulfil. Let them take the counsel metaphorically given by Jesus, to ’tarry in Jerusalem till their beards are grown.’” They should by all means wait until the spirits are strong enough to control and guard them from the meddlesome interferences of other persons, both those in the flesh and those out of it. Many spirits will overwork the medium, and the latter not knowing enough to protect himself will often suffer by reason thereof. On the other hand, young mediums often yield to the importunities of friends and other sitters, and will try to oblige and satisfy them, even often at the expense of their own powers and forces.

Public Séances.

A writer, himself a successful medium, gives the following good advice to young mediums: “I strongly advise all mediums to wait and serve out their apprenticeship thoroughly before they undertake to sit for sceptics or perform public work, either as test, impersonating, speaking, seeing, or healing mediums; and the best place to secure the necessary experience, training and unfolding is in the home circle. After a certain stage has been reached, however, the medium who has been used for impersonations will in all probability begin to display the powers of clairvoyance and to receive vivid impressions. Then will come, or they will be accompanied by, the efforts of the spirits to pass beyond the purely personal and limited forms of expression associated with the affectionate messages and greetings, to the consideration and explanation of the conditions and experiences of life on the other side. Spirits who can teach and give more sequential and sustained addresses will in all likelihood assume control, and under such conditions it will be found necessary to enlarge the circle and introduce fresh sitters. The clairvoyant, or psychometrist, needs new subjects with whom to experiment, and the speaking medium requires an audience to listen to his discourses, so that the next step beyond the small private circle may well be a semi-public one, or an ‘after circle’ such as is frequently held at the close of the public Sunday services in many towns, at which mediums who have reached this stage are afforded the opportunities they need.

Home Circle Development.

“Around the family table, where those who are united in affection meet to hold joyous communion with their spirit friends, where the blended desire ascends to the spiritual plane, and becomes the potent magnetic attraction, by which those friends can establish harmonious relations with the sitters in such a circle and under such conditions even a weak degree of mediumistic responsiveness to the outpouring from the spirit side will become intensified and exalted, until rhythmic vibrations are established and thought and emotion will readily pass from one to another, and all will be attuned. The best method of cultivation is to regard the mediumistic sensitiveness as a natural and desirable quality, to be evolved by training and experiments, under the direction of the reason and the conscience. In this manner the tribunal which decides the conduct of life is ever present, and no matter what influences are brought to bear on the sensitive he remains steadfast, realizing that the responsibility for use or abuse rests upon himself.”

Undue Prolongation of Séances.

There is a great temptation to young mediums to allow their enthusiasm, and desire to aid in demonstrating spiritualistic phenomena, to cause them to prolong their séances far beyond the limits which prudence and regard for the medium’s physical well-being would dictate. There is a certain stimulation and excitement arising from the manifestation of phenomena through the medium, and this in itself is helpful rather than hurtful a tonic rather than a depressant; but like all other forms of overindulgence, and excessive yielding to this excitement tends to bring on a reaction and a swing to the opposite emotional extreme, and the medium suffers thereby in many cases. There comes a time in all séances when the high-water mark of psychic power is reached, and this is a good time for the medium to bring the séance to a close in fact, experienced mediums do precisely this very thing at this particular time. But this point once passed, there is experienced a peculiar weakening and depressing feeling, this often being accompanied by a physical weariness and a feeling of chilliness in the extremities, or even a slight chilly feeling over the whole body. When these feelings are experienced, the medium should remember that the limit of reason has been passed, and he should bring matters to a close without further loss of time. Experienced spirits will usually detect the approach of the reaction time, and will, themselves, bring the séance to a close, independent of any action on the part of the medium. But when the spirits are not experienced, they fail to notice this, or even may become careless about such things in their desire to communicate to the circle. In the latter cases, the medium must take care of himself.

Good Advice to Young Mediums.

A mediumistic writer gives the following advice on this subject to young mediums: “Never forget that your nerve-vital energy is used and expended in the exercise of your mediumship, and that the supply is limited, hence the necessity for care and moderation. Too frequent, prolonged, or discordant séances; inharmonious conditions and sittings, when you are already jaded and exhausted, are therefore to be avoided. If you make excessive demands upon your energies, nervous prostrations and dérangements are an almost inevitable consequence. It is not the use of mediumship, but its abuse that is dangerous perversion and excess are as injurious in this direction as they are in others, whereas temperate and healthful exercises are strengthening and exhilarating. If you feel ‘run down,’ decline to act. If you feel that the circle is inharmonious, or that the sitters are depleted and exacting, refuse to sit. If you feel that you are tired, and feel weary and debilitated on the day following your séances, you may be sure that you are sitting too long, or that you require the help of a larger circle of congenial friends to supply the requisite psychic force for your further development.”

Self-Protection for Mediums.

Another writer says on this subject: “Mediumship occasionally acts in such a manner that it becomes a stimulant to every organ and function of the system, and the individual becomes excited, nervous, and irritable; hence, the greater the acceleration of physiological functions as the result of psychical influences upon the human body, the more need of caution and restraint in every department of physiological life.” But it must not be understood that the proper practice of mediumship is harmful and not conducive to good health. On the contrary, as a writer has said: “We consider the highest degree of physical health perfectly compatible with the best manifestation of mediumship.” Another writer has well said: “If you are not robust enough, if you have not sufficient knowledge and self-mastery to use your will and maintain control over your psychic self; if you are unable to guard against the adverse emanations or the drawing power of others, you had better take lessons in concentration and psychic self-protection; and until you understand the art of self-possession, refrain from attempting to cultivate your sensitiveness. It will never do for you to be ’too sensitive’ be natural, sensible, and strong.”

Danger in Indiscriminate Magnetizing.

Another point against which the medium should guard himself, is that of allowing others, indiscriminately, to “magnetize” him to “aid his development” or to “increase his power.” Mediums, particularly while in the psychic condition, are very sensitive and susceptible to outside mental influences. And for this reason they should be particularly on guard against allowing themselves to be “magnetized” or influenced psychically by persons of whom they know nothing. Otherwise, the medium not only places himself under subjection to the mentality and emotionality of strangers and undesirable persons, just as would a hypnotic subject if he placed himself under the control of such persons. Moreover, in the case of the medium, there is a danger of his being so influenced in this way that thereafter he may attract to himself a class of undesirable spirit influences who would otherwise never have come into his psychic aura or world. We call attention to the following advice on this point given by an experienced mediumistic writer:

Detrimental Magnetic Influence.

“No sensible person should surrender himself to the magnetic influence of a human being of whom he knew nothing; he should need to know and have confidence in him before doing so; yet we find many who, impelled by a desire to be a medium, without understanding how much the word implies, sit down and invite any magnetizer who comes along to experiment upon him. Under such circumstances, nothing but a high motive and a pure purpose will protect them from the operations of unwise or mischievous intelligences. As well might they go and sit in a public place with their eyes blindfolded, and with an inscription on their breasts, ‘Who will come and magnetize me?’ Mesmeric influence from an experienced operator, for the purpose of inducing susceptibility, is sometimes helpful to a sensitive. If the mesmerist can put you in the trance condition and then hand you over to trustworthy spirits to control you, well and good. In the same way, mesmeric passes may be helpful in the liberation of your clairvoyant powers. The operator may succeed in throwing you into the deep trance state, in which you may travel or become clairvoyant, but we would not recommend you to submit to mesmeric influence or hypnotic suggestions from anyone, unless you know that he is experienced and a thoroughly honorable and trustworthy individual. In circles for development one member is frequently impressed, or controlled to make magnetic passes over another to aid in his unfoldment; and if such a thing should happen to you, and the influence is congenial, there need be no objection raised by you; but beware of those people who claim to be able, by mesmerism, to develop you into a medium in a given period of time.”

Mediumistic Auto-Suggestion.

Other authorities have pointed out the fact that in some cases hypnotism has resulted in a sort of pseudo-mediumship, or bogus mediumship, in which the control is not that of a real spirit, but is merely the result of the suggestion of the hypnotizer, or else the auto-suggestion of the would-be medium himself. A writer on the subject has said of this: “In too many cases, only the power of auto-hypnotism is manifested, and we have obsession, fraud and folly as the result. There is one sure method of detecting the auto-hypnotic trance, and showing the difference between that and the genuine spirit trance. Any competent magnetist or hypnotiser can throw off the spell in all cases of self-induced trance, unless it has reached the condition of complete catalepsy. But if a spirit has induced the trance and controls the medium, it will laugh at the hypnotist’s efforts to restore him to the ordinary condition. The most unfortunate feature of this sorry business is that the poor subject is self-deceived, and imagines that he is a full-fledged medium; and when he has made some terrible break on the platform or elsewhere he shields himself by laying all the responsibility upon some supposed spirit guide.”

“Psychic Sponges.”

A writer has also called the attention of young mediums to another undesirable class of psychic hangers-on at séances, as follows: “There are some people who, when they sit in a circle, are extremely helpful, and give off the right kind of force that readily blends with that of the sensitive; but there are others who draw upon and appropriate the psychic forces which are needed by the medium, or by the spirits through the medium. While they mean well, enjoy the séances, and feel ’so much better’ after them, the success of the circle is endangered so far as the object for which it was formed is concerned. Such persons are ‘psychic sponges,’ and should be requested to sit outside the circle, or be asked kindly to refrain from attending.”

Investigate Your Spirits.

Finally, the young medium should understand the true nature of the spirits, and just how far he may be safely guided by their advice and wishes. The instructions given by an intelligent spirit of good character may be safely followed as a rule, but the character and general intelligence of a particular spirit must first be ascertained through acquaintance with him. Until the character of a spirit has been fully established, and his claim to intelligence well supported by his messages, the medium will do well to rely on his or her own good judgment and intuition. As a writer has well said: “The medium must keep a level head and proceed cautiously. He should never allow any spirit, in or out of the body, to usurp his right of private judgment or exercise any undue authority over him. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; you must use your own discretion and try the spirits before you trust to them.”

Spirits Are Still Human Beings.

Many persons seem to be under the impression that because a spirit happens to have passed out of the body he will, of necessity, know the truth about every subject in the range of human thought, and can make no mistakes, and can always work miracles. But this is a grave mistake; it should always be remembered that a decarnate spirit is as much a human being as is an incarnate spirit such as yourself; and not any better or worse, on the average, than yourself or other incarnate spirits. One needs but to remember that all sorts and conditions of people are constantly passing out on to the spirit plane, and that, at least for some time, they continue to be practically the same kind of persons that they were on the earth plane. This being so, it will be seen that it would be very unwise to surrender oneself indiscriminately to each and every kind of spirit who happens to manifest his presence at a séance. Persons in the flesh should talk and reason with those out of the flesh just as they would were the latter still on the earth-plane of life. A writer well says: “In a developing circle many things can be tolerated, because both sides are experimenting and ’feeling their way towards each other,’ and it is difficult at first to know just what is necessary or possible. But it is a safe rule to follow for one to refuse to be dictated to by the spirits and to decline to go on blindly.”

Beware of Domineering Spirits.

A writer has given the following good advice to young mediums, which such will do well to heed: “Do not always be ready to be controlled, or to drop into a trance just because you ‘feel the influence,’ and ’a spirit wants to say something,’ or to oblige injudicious friends who ‘wish you would let him come.’ Many people are very inconsiderate, and although they do not say so, they think (and the sensitive feels their thought) ‘I do wish he would go under control and tell me something.’ You should decline to be controlled except at the times when you voluntarily and with set purpose lay yourself open to the influence of the spirits, in a properly constituted circle, or when you are prepared for it. If the spirits cause you to do foolish or ridiculous things, gently but firmly refuse to again submit. Do not be induced to yield by promise of future greatness and success. Not a few people have had their vanity tickled and their ambitions aroused by the flattery of crafty and domineering spirits, and in consequence they have been misled into doing and saying very absurd and foolish things.”