Cycles of Psychism

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Cycles of Psychism

By The Theosophy Company

Psychism And Spiritualism

Each century of western history is marked by waves and out bursts of psychic experience and phenomena. The cycle has its premonitory symptoms during the early decades of the century, and usually flowers at the midpoint, continuing and spread ing its influence for a time, then diminishing gradually until the beginning of the next cycle. An interesting illustration of this cycle isprovided by the Shakers, an ascetic Christian sect of which scarcely a dozen members are today alive. The psychological history of the Shakers really begins with George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, who in 1647 became filled with the conviction that hewas a chosen instrument of Providence. He felt that the voice of God spoke within him. The religious reforms accomplished by the Quak ers are well known, and the theosophist has nothing but respect and admiration for the nobility of purpose which animated George Fox and somany of his self-sacrificing followers. But we are presently concerned with the fact that his inspiration, whatever its origin, took the coloring of the emotional nature of George Fox—was filtered through his psyche—and the significance of the moving force he felt inhis heart was given aninterpretation hethought to be the true one. George Fox made no impartial comparison of his psychological experience with the psychological experiences of other men. Instead, he interpreted what he felt according to the prevailing religious beliefs of his times. This fact identifies his experience as essentially psychic in character. 

So itwas with Ann Lee, the “Mother Ann” of the Shakers. She was amember of “The United Society of Believers inChrist's Second Appearing,” a small Quaker sect which was led by James and Jane Wardley in England at the middle of the eighteenth century. This group of religious enthusiasts had been formed under the inspira tion of some Camisards, French Huguenots who, years before, had fled toEngland toescape the persecutions which followed the revoca tion of the Edict of Nantes. Like somany who suffer for their beliefs, the Camisards believed they had clairvoyant inspiration. Mrs. Wardley was subject to seizures of “the spirit,” bringing her, as she thought, special illumination, and she predicted the second coming of Christ inthe form of awoman. Ann Lee, who joined the Wardleys in 1758, was born ofpoor Manchester parents and in her girlhood suffered from hysteria and convulsions. She preached in the streets ofManchester, accompanying her moving exhortations 

with shouting, the unintelligible “speaking in tongues,” and other physical manifestations. Hence the name, “Shaking Quakers,” which later became simply “Shakers.” Imprisoned for this behavior, Ann Lee claimed that Jesus appeared to her in her cell and became one with her “in form and person,” which led the Wardleys and their followers to recognize in her the female Christ—-the Bride of the Lamb. Persecutions only excited her to another revelation—that America would be the scene of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. Emigrat ing to the New World in I774 with a handful of followers, “Mother Ann” established the first Shaker community near Albany. A few years later they were joined by a number of Baptist converts living in Lebanon, and from that time the community grew and branched out in Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

The Shakers were perfectionists, believing that they had estab lished a veritable heaven on earth, and if their conduct is any cri terion, this conviction was well founded. Some writers have likened them to the ancient Essenes. Their personal lives were models for a successful communistic enterprise. It is curious that as a sect, Shak erism survived and flourished for more than I00 years—longer than any other attempt at a communistic society—despite the rule of complete chastity established by Ann Lee. They lived on a simple fare, few of them eating meat, and were almost never ill. Celibates all, their numbers were augmented only by conversion, and by I860 some 6,000 Shakers were in America, living in communities in New York and New England. Of peculiar interest is the Shaker com munity dance, which was a sort of shuffling march to one of their hymns, varied by occasional “whirling” for a considerable time. 

Although the Shakers always professed to have intimate inter course with the “spirit world,” special intimations of the psychologi cal upheaval which was to occur in America came to the Shakers in I837. There were at that time sixty Shaker communities. The chil dren of the Lebanon settlement were the first to experience the de velopment of clairvoyant powers, and were seized with trances. It was not long before nearly all the members of the various Shaker settlements found themselves in communication with “spirits.” Much of their music they professed to have learned from “spirits.” Rea lizing, however, that these manifestations would have marked them as insane in the eyes of a sceptical world, they maintained complete secrecy about their intercourse with “spirits”—most of whom were Indians—until after 1848. After the remarkable phenomena of the Fox sisters and other mediums had attracted widespread interest, an elder of the community, Frederick B. Evans, related the visitations 

experienced by the Shakers, which had begun eleven years earlier. He said that the spirits had told the Shakers that the phenomena were destined to spread throughout America and Europe. Nearly every Shaker was a medium, according to their own word, and for seven years after the first “invasion” of the spirits whole houses of Shakers were periodically obsessed by Indian “spirits.” 

The experiences of the Shakers were more or less unique in their collective anticipation of the psychic phenomena which flooded over America, marking the mid-century cycle of psychism. There were, however, several individuals to whom religious revelations of a spir itualistic character came during this earlier period. In I830 Joseph Smith and six of his followers organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to spread the teachings which had been revealed to him in a series of visions. He was, he claimed, personally visited by two persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father and Son. Later it was made known to him that he had been selected to preach a new gospel, and an angel who appeared to him directed the discovery of the gold plates on which the Book of Mormon was engraved in an unknown language. Enabled to translate the scripture by means of glasses provided by the Lord, Joseph Smith became the prophet whose new revelation was regarded as of equal authority with the Jewish and Christian scriptures. In thirty years the Mormons were well established in Utah and elsewhere, their number totalling some 200,000. Today there are 750,000 Mormons, serious men and women who are universally respected for their honesty, industry and sobriety. The head of the Mormon Church is believed by the Mor mons to receive revelations direct from God, obtained through dreams or waking visions, “by voices without visional appearance, or by actual manifestation of the Holy Presence before the eye.” 

Joseph Smith’s first vision followed his attendance at a religious revival held in Wayne County, New York. These outbursts of re ligious psychism resulted in several such “inspirations.” The fierce revival of I831 began the moody meditations of John Humphrey Noyes, who was to found the community of “Bible Communists” at Oneida Creek. He abandoned law and took up the study of theology. Finding no light in his course in divinity at Andover, he went to Yale, and there he learned through dreams that God had a divine plan which he, Noyes, was to realize in its perfection on earth. There fol lowed a re-interpretation of the Gospel of Paul, which led to the formation of the Perfectionists according to the program revealed to this prophet of Christian communism. Like the Mormons, the 

Noyes community suffered many vicissitudes, but due to the inde fatigable labors so frequently exhibited by those who think them selves divinely inspired, it achieved a success in economic and social organization that is today well known. The Oneida Community is famous for the silverware produced in its factories. Both com munities have held unconventional ideas on the subject of marriage the Mormons as part of their religious doctrines, the Oneida com munists as practical eugenists attempting to improve the race physi cally as well as “spiritually.” 

Another forerunner of the spiritualistic cycle of the nineteenth century was the famous seer of Poughkeepsie, Andrew Jackson Davis. Born in 1826, as a boy he heard voices which gave him advice and comfort. He developed clairvoyant powers and it was discovered that he could diagnose disease. His powers were studied and fostered by a travelling mesmerist, William Levingston, and in I844. Davis began to report long flights of soul experience while in trance. He claimed to have two venerable instructors whom he later identified as Galen and Swedenborg. In his nineteenth year he began writing about his psychic experiences, the Rev. William Fishbough acting as his amanuensis, who took down the revelations declared by the young man after he had been placed in a trance condition. During the course of his life Davis wrote twenty books, including a remarkable autobiography giving account of his clairvoyance and his psychic adventures, and his visions of the meaning of death and the states after death. His Harmonial Philosophy comprised a series of volumes and became virtually the bible of the spiritualists, passing through forty editions. This work contains a remarkably coherent theory of cosmogony similar to that of Swedenborg, and a detailed description of the “spiritual world.” It also expounds a theory of evolution. Davis predicted the coming cycle of spiritualism, writing in I847 that “the world will hail with delight the ushering-in of that era when the interiors of men will be opened, and the spiritual com munion will be established. . . .” He should, however, be regarded as a seer rather than an ordinary medium, for he specifically re nounced the idea of “control” by spirits, although admitting their aid. 

II It should be realized that the abnormal states of consciousness which had grown familiar to the people of Europe through the work of Mesmer and his disciples were not unknown in America. The doc trine of animal magnetism and its curative power first taught by the Viennese genius had various embodiments in America under other 

names. As early as 1830 John Bovee Dods lectured in New Eng land on “Electrical Psychology,” proclaiming electricity to be the connecting link between mind and matter. A Frenchman, Charles Poyen, began giving public demonstrations of Mesmerism in Amer ica in 1836. Wandering through New England in 1838, Poyen met Phineas Quimby, at Belfast, Maine. Quimby, who was then thirty six, soon discovered that he, too, had unusual mesmeric power. Ob taining a sensitive, Quimby began to diagnose the ills of the people of the village, using the clairvoyant perception of his subject. He found by experiment that it made little difference what medicine he advised, becoming convinced that his cures were effected by mental influence. On the basis of such experience Quimby evolved the theory that all disease is amental delusion which can be eradicated by thought. After years of successful practice at Portland, Maine, he received in 1861 a letter from aDr. Patterson, asking that Quimby exercise his “wonderful power” to free Mrs. Patterson (later Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy) of her invalidism. The essential ideas of Dr. Quimby's therapy, which he began to record in 1859 in the now famous “Quimby Manuscripts,” are best known to the world as Christian Science. 

New Thought, too, derives principally from the doctrines of Phineas Quimby. In1869 aSwedenborgian minister of New Hamp shire, Warren Felt Evans, pupil and patient ofQuimby, began the flow of New Thought literature with publication of The Mental Cure, which, itappears from comparison, was little more than a re ligious version ofQuimby's understanding of what he had learned from his own practice of Mesmerism. Thus, what had originally been the scientific revelation of the eighteenth century, Mesmer's rediscovery of the nervous fluid of the human psyche, and itsextra ordinary curative power through the will of the adept-physician, slowly became, by filtering through the untutored and materialistic minds of the age, spread bywandering quacks, and interpreted by ignorant though honest enthusiasts, the source of a hundred and one psychic cults and sects, each cherishing a fragment of the truth, but more often misusing it than not. Much of modern psychoanalysis, too, traces indirectly toMesmer. Janet and Charcot, who both exercised great influence over Sigmund Freud, developed their doctrines in the atmosphere of the decadent mesmerism practiced by the French schools ofpsychologists. There is little, of course, inmodern psychoanalysis that Mesmer would recognize, but the basic principle of all psychoanalytical therapy, the 

influence wielded by analyst over the patient, remains as the shadow of Mesmer’s great contribution. Modern hypnotism, too, is a limited adaptation of Mesmer’s technique, shorn of its moral and meta physical significance. 

III We turn, now, to the origins of modern spiritualism in the nine teenth century. 

In December, 1847, John D. Fox and his family moved into a small house in the little village of Hydesville, in Wayne County, New York. Almost at once “knocks” or rappings began to occur during the night. The sounds could not be explained as the result of any natural cause and seemed to proceed from a bedroom or the cellar beneath. The three girls, the youngest of whom was twelve year-old Kate, complained of being touched by cold hands. On the night of March 31, 1848, the family retired early, being exhausted from these increasing disturbances which interfered with their rest. The rappings, however, came louder than ever. Kate Fox, sitting up in bed, was amused by the sounds, and snapping her fingers cried out: 

“Here, Mr. Splitfoot, do as I dol” This led to the startling discovery that the invisible agency which caused the rappings would respond to intelligent direction. Raps ac companied her movements. “Only look,” cried Kate; “look, it can see as well as hearl” The sounds corresponded to her noiseless motions. It was soon discovered that it was possible to communicate with this agency, -questions being answered by raps which numbered the letters of the alphabet. Neighbors were called and excitement swept the community of Hydesville. Messages purporting to come from the “spirit” of a murdered pedler were obtained in this way. From information thus received investigators discovered the remains of a man who had been buried in the cellar. By this strange event, and by the correct guessing of the ages of persons, a measure of veracity was established for the “spirits.” Interest in the phenomena spread and soon the Fox children were made the subject of an unend ing series of experiments and public exhibitions, for it had been observed that the manifestations seemed to require their presence. It became evident that the communications were not limited to those from the deceased pedler, but included messages from a host of “spirits,” one of them claiming to be Benjamin Franklin. In order to escape the throng of curious wonder-seekers who gave the family no peace, and to avoid the persecutions of the sceptical and unbeliev

ing, the Fox family moved to Rochester. Mrs. Fox, a sincere Meth odist, was much disturbed by the abnormal manifestations which everywhere followed Kate and her older sister, Margaretta. The distracted mother prayed continually that the torment might cease, and during the early days of the “rappings” her hair turned white in a single week. Both she and the children strove in vain against the “spirits,” which kept demanding public exhibitions. The oldest of the girls, Leah, who was then a music teacher living in Rochester, wrote many years later: 

The general feeling of our family . . . was strongly adverse to all this. . . . We regarded it as a great misfortune which had fallen upon us; how, whence or Why we knew not. We resisted it, struggled against it, and constantly and earnestly prayed for deliverance from it. . . . If our will, earnest desires and prayers could have prevailed or availed, the whole thing would have ended then and there, and the world outside of our little neighborhood would never have heard more of the Rochester Rappings, or of the unfortunate Fox family.‘ 

Nevertheless, the return of the rappings after a cessation of two weeks is said to have been greeted with joy by the family. Re luctantly, they undertook to follow the demands of the “spirits” and become public mediums. To this occupation they devoted the rest of their lives. 

Meanwhile, following the publicity given to the Fox children, it became known that similar manifestations were taking place else where. In the words of Alfred Russel Wallace, “. . . at the same time other mediums were discovered in different parts of the country, as if a special development of this abnormal power were then occur ing.”' This seemed, in effect, a confirmation of the assurance given by the “spirits” to the Fox sisters that the manifestations were not to be confined to them, but would go “all over the world.” Rappings occurred as far west as St. Louis and Cincinnati, and in Maine, Massachusetts and New York. By I 850 séances arranged according to the direction of the “spirits” were being held in California, Ore gon, Texas, and in several southern states. Religious-minded men and women formed Spiritualist sects, claiming messages from the apostles and the Hebrew prophets of old. Thomas Lake Harris, writer and preacher, joined with Spiritualists to found the “Apostolic Brotherhood,” which culminated in a spiritualist community known as the Mountain Cove Movement. Many clergymen developed psychic capacities and became leaders of small bands of spiritualists. 


as he was unable to persuade the American Association for the Pro motion of Science to consider the subject of psychic phenomena. That body at one of its annual conventions turned down all the pro posals for investigation which he presented. No more successful in gaining a hearing from the scientific world was Prof. James Mapes, president of the Mechanics Institute, a distinguished chem ist who had been honored by numerous scientific bodies here and abroad. Beginning his study of spiritualistic phenomena in order to redeem respected friends who, he declared, were “fast running to mental seed and imbecility,” he ended as an advocate of spiritualism. 

IV It must not be supposed that because Theosophy admits the reality of these phenomena, it also approves the theories of the Spiritualists. Nothing could be further from the truth. A full explanation of the identity of the seance “spirits” and of spiritualistic phenomena gen erally is provided in the pamphlet, Where Are the Dead? (pub lished by Theosophy Company). This pamphlet, which is made up of statements taken from the basic teachings of Theosophy, should be studied carefully in connection with the whole problem of Spiritualism. Theosophy does not deny the existence of disem bodied spiritual intelligences, but it shows that such beings cannot be reached by the methods of the Spiritualists. As Madame Bla vatsky explains in The Secret Doctrine, it is only “by paralyzing his lower personality, and arriving thereby at the full knowledge of the non-separateness of his higher Self from the One absolute SELF,” that man can, during his terrestrial life, arrive at that state of consciousness in which such soul-communion with high spiritual beings is possible. 

Theosophy teaches also that the spirits of the dead cannot return to earth—save in rare and exceptional cases (see Where dre the Dead?), nor do they communicate with men except by entirely sub jective means. That which does communicate, through the medium, or appear objectively as a “materialization,” is nothing more than the phantom of the ex-physical man, his more or less coherent psychic remains. The spiritual individuality of the disembodied cannot ma terialize, nor can it return from its own exalted mental sphere to the plane of terrestrial objectivity. The idea alone that the intellectual conscious souls of one’s father, mother, daughter or brother find their bliss in a “Summer Land” is enough to make one lose respect for one’s departed ones. To believe that a pure spirit can feel happy 

while doomed to witness the sins, mistakes, treachery, and, above all, the sufferings of those from whom it is severed by death and whom it loves best, without being able to help them, would be a maddening thought. 

Everything depends on the view taken of Spirit and Soul, or Individuality and Personality. Spiritualists confuse the two into one; Theosophy separates them, and says that no Spirit will revisit the earth, though its former “animal soul” may. The “spook” that visits the seances, mistakenly called a “spirit” by the Spiritualists, is only the lower animal intelligence of the man that has died. The gross physical memories of this entity, which is the psychic corpse of the deceased, may be drawn to a seance and acquire artificial life from the vital psychic atmosphere surrounding the medium. In the medium’s aura it lives a kind of vicarious life and reasons and speaks through the medium’s brain, deceiving the sitters with frag mentary recollections of the past. But such communications are no more “spiritual” than the playing of a cracked phonograph record. 

Other manifestations, such as “rappings,” slate-writing, and the so-called “materializations,” are produced by the medium’s astral body. (See section on Hypnotism.) The laws governing such phe nomena are given in greater detail in the portions of the Theosophi cal literature devoted to this subject. What is important to be noted here is the grave danger to both medium and sitters in ex posing themselves to the degrading influences of contact with these “shells” or psychic remains, which have been separated from the higher part of the soul and remain in the earth’s atmosphere, slowly disintegrating, and spreading psychic infection and moral disease among those who become passively open to their influence. 

Mediumship and dabbling in Spiritualism, on the supposition that such practices are “spiritual,” can bring only suffering, and even mental and physical break-down, in the end, to the psychically in clined. Theosophy, from the earliest days of the Movement, has always warned against experimentation and curiosity-hunting in the field of psychic phenomena, as an ignorant playing with sinister forces that act invisibly and destructively on the victims of spiritual istic delusions. 

While interest in Spiritualism gradually died out during the clos ing years of the nineteenth century, and was seldom heard from in the first decade of the twentieth century, the loss of loved ones occasioned by World War I brought a sudden revival of the doc trines of the Summer Land of spirits. The spiritualistic writings of 

the eminent physicist, Sir Oliver Lodge, came into prominence, and the pitiful account of his “communications” with his son Raymond, killed in the war, won the sympathy of the few and the curiosity of the many. A study printed by the Journal of 14 bnormal and Social Psychology (July, 1942) reports that the number of American magazines devoted to Spiritualism grew from fifty-two in 1915 to a peak of 136 in 1920, then falling off to fifty-eight in 1930. English publications dealing with the same object increased from seven to seventy during the same period and fell off to fourteen in 192 5. 

Similar increases occurred for journals in the more dignified field of “psychic research.” One of the effects of this revival of interest was the Scientific American investigation of “Margery,” famous Boston medium, which, while probably increasing the circulation of that worthy magazine for a short period, accomplished little for the science of psychic research. The committee of scientists, headed by Dr. Harlow Shapley of the Harvard Observatory, who sat with the medium, officially reported nothing of importance, although the em inent psychologist, Dr. William McDougall, who served on the com mittee, a few years later was instrumental in establishing the pro gram of study of telepathy (now called Extra Sensory Perception) at Duke University. Dr. McDougall’s motives in undertaking psychic research were almost unique among scientific men in that they approximated the reason that H. P. Blavatsky gave for the intelligent investigation of supernormal phenomena. He said in 1923: 

Unless Psychical Research can discover facts incompatible with materialism, materialism will continue to spread. No other power can stop it; revealed religion and metaphysical philosophy are equally helpless before the advancing tide. And if that tide continues to rise and advance as it is doing now, all signs point to the view that it will be a destroying tide, that it will sweep away all the hard-won gains of humanity, all the moral traditions built up by the efforts of count less generations for the increase of truth, justice and charity. 

In 1937, just one year before his death, Dr. McDougall repeated his appeal for the rejection of materialism with some leading ques tions in the first issue of a journal devoted to the investigation of the supernormal powers in man. “What,” he asked, “are the relations of mind and matter?” 

Are mental processes always and everywhere intimately and utterly dependent upon material or physical organizations? Do the volitions, the strivings, the desires, the joys and sorrows, the judgments and beliefs of men make any difference to the historical course of the events of our world, as the mass of men at all times have believed?
Or does the truth lie with those few philosophers and scientists who, with or without some more or less plausible theory in support of their view, confidently reject well-nigh universal beliefs, telling us that the physical is coextensive with the mental and that the powers and potentialities of mind may be defined by the laws of the physical sciences? 

The philosophic interest in psychic research harbored by Dr. Mc Dougall has been all too rare. Even the somewhat trivial methods introduced in the Duke program of investigation—the “guessing” of cards stamped with symbols—have been imitated in forms of parlor entertainment, and too often the telepathic powers discovered by individuals in themselves have stimulated a course of mediumistic “development.” It is a pity that Dr. McDougall did not realize the importance of “metaphysical philosophy” as the all-important guide to investigation of psychic phenomena. Nothing short of philosophy has the power to prevent the blind rushing of multitudes after the will-’o-the-wisps of “spirits,” and to sharpen the discrimination of those who find hidden capacities blossoming within themselves. The increasing instances of psychism in the late thirties and early forties of the present century are but preludes to a mighty storm of phenom enalism and wonder-seeking, destined, according to the law of cycles taught by Theosophy, to become a psychological hurricane during the period that is now almost upon us. 

While the nineteenth century cycle of psychism did not show its real strength until 184.8, there was at that time no planetary war to hasten the longing for communication with those unnaturally cut off from life in the full bloom of youth. Then, as now, premonitory symptoms occurred, as among the Shakers, and there were the ex periences of the American seer, Andrew Jackson Davis, and of Daniel Dunglas Home, the English medium, but no foundation for extensive acceptance of the phenomena existed before 184.8. Only the heterodox followers of Anton Mesmer had any intimation of the psychological laws which might have helped to explain the medium istic “miracles,” and these few outcasts soon joined the Spiritualistic movement, of which they became some of the leaders and inter preters. It remained for Madame Blavatsky, in 1875, to give voice to the essential warnings which spiritualists so sorely needed. 

There is a law of occult development that works its inexorable way with all such children of their age who dare to raise the veil of Isis: It is impossible to employ spiritual forces if there is the slightest tinge of selfishness remaining in the operator. For, unless the inten tion is entirely unalloyed, the spiritual will transfonn itself into the psychic, act on the Astral plane, and dire results may be produced by it. 

It was not for nothing that Jesus urged his disciples, “Come ye out and be ye separate.” Unless the heart be purged of all impurity, all compromises with human weakness and desire set aside, no door will be found to the sacred temple of truth, and the terrible occult reality will inevitably destroy all those who rashly approach without learn ing first the rule of obedience to time-honored laws. 

V The “scientific” investigation of psychic phenomena, as distin guished from the religious sects of Spiritualism, has been going on for many years, adding little knowledge of the laws of the phe nomena, but at least convincing all those who have honestly looked into the field that supernormal events are a reality, whatever may be their meaning. While psychic research is still a somewhat sec tarian cultus on the fringe of orthodox and accepted science, it can not be denied that these conductors of psychic autopsies have slowly been gaining recognition. The first study of spiritualistic phenomena by a respected man of science was Prof. Wm. Crookes’ Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, published in the 1870's. Since his day other leaders have lent their names to psychic research, the most outstanding in America being William James, the eminent psychol ogist. Charles Richet, the French biologist, admitted to a belief in the fact of psychic phenomena, candidly confessing his inability to explain them. In 1920 Baron von Schrenck Notzing’s Phenomena of Materialization appeared, a weighty volume which left little doubt that materializations of subtle psychic forms do occur under pro pitious conditions. Another highlight in this progressive “naturaliza tion” of psychic science was the award in 1937 by Duke University of a doctoral degree in Philosophy to John F. Thomas, whose con tribution to “knowledge” was a 320-page record of spiritualistic communications from his deceased wife! 

The work of investigators like W. Dunne, whose Experiment With Time (1927) brought the scientific world convincing testi mony of the fact of prophetic dreams; of Dr. Charles Jung, who made the startling discovery that dream symbols often have the same pattern as alchemical figures of the Middle Ages; of Prof. Bart J. Bok, eminent astronomer of Harvard, who now admits that there is some truth in astrology, and of many other workers in re search, has been undermining the scepticism of scientists for a decade or more. Dr. Einstein’s qualified approval of Dr. Gustav Strom berg’s attempt to (provide a scientific basis for immortality in The Soul of the Universe must also have had its effect. 

Meanwhile, literary figures, all the way from minor luminaries like Nina Wilcox Putnam and Stewart Edward White to writers in True Story, have been purveying their psychic revelations to a growing crowd of enthusiasts and believers. The noted author of Credo, years later, in The Unobstructed Universe, revealed a life long interest in Spiritualism, and set forth claims to receiving from the spirit of the late Mrs. White, herself a sensitive, a new psychic cosmology and philosophy of life. 

The Spiritualist cults are gaining a new lease on life by the recent appearance of several child mediums, innocent victims of psychic curiosity, whose achievements have been thoroughly exploited by the sensation-seeking press. Picture magazines, avid for circulation-get ting material of this quality, have reproduced the more extraordinary of “spirit” photographs, drawn from private collections. Lilydale, New York, the Spiritualist Mecca, has more than once received dramatic presentation; notably, in Life for Aug. 2, 1937, when the whole mythology of nineteenth century spiritualism was revived and illustrated, with appropriate description in the quip-like style of the Life editors. – 

Teachers of hypnotism abound, and despite warnings by physi cians high in their profession, the fascination of this conjuror’s art is interesting otherwise sober medical men in techniques that are broadly advertised by these modern Charcots. Especially pernicious attempts are being made in scientifically authoritative quarters to dispel the popular idea that hypnotism is “Black Magic,” while the cures it has supposedly brought about are recounted in glowing terms. 

Volumes could be devoted to description of these symptoms of renascent psychism, of the unbelievable naiveté of modern cultists, and of the tragic ignorance of the occult laws that men who imagine themselves scientists are on the verge of violating in extreme degree. Suffice it that the evidence is ample to show that the world of psychic interests and undertakings is a veritable jungle of confusion, full of fascinating sights and sounds, and rich in the attractions of escap ism so longingly sought by a world strained almost to the breaking point by the fierce selfishness and competitive struggle for existence which dominate modern “civilization,” and by the unrelieved ten sions of periodic wars. 




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