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It was to have been followed by a second volume, "The Genesis and Meaning of Metapsychic Phenomena", of which, however, the world was deprived by his sudden death in an aeroplane accident on July 15, , a few days after a last experiment with Kluski in Warsaw. The reality of mediumistic phenomena is certainly not yet accepted without discussion and reservations, but it is no longer systematically denied.
Demonstrative experiments, everywhere undertaken of late years, especially those of Baron von Schrenck-Notzing in Germany, and those of the International Metapsychic Institute in France, have been decisive. The last objections are gradually diminishing, and fresh men of science are daily devoting themselves resolutely to research. We may soon expect a general impetus to these studies, which only the scarcity of good mediums can retard.
I therefore consider that it will be useful to call the attention of students new to the subject to the special difficulties of the task they are undertaking.
They must fully understand that metapsychic experiment is a delicate matter and one that cannot be improvised. To be fruitful of results it needs a profound knowledge of the phases and variations of mediumship and of the unpublished methods of experimentation that these phases necessitate.
A medium is a human instrument needing much more complicated and delicate handling than chemical substances or physical apparatus. Moreover, we still know very little; such knowledge of mediumship as we have has been acquired empirically and only after innumerable gropings.
At present, however, some definite rules and precise ideas have become apparent, and these I shall endeavour to put in a clear light. The General Type of Experimentation Mediumistic investigations belong to the class of "collective experiments," for the phenomena are the results of subconscious psycho-physiological collaboration between the medium and the experimenters.
Unless this fundamental idea is consistently kept in mind scarcely anything will be understood of mediumship either theoretically or practically. Doubtless it is the medium who plays the principal part in this collaboration; he is the deus ex machina without whom nothing would be manifest. But, left to himself, he is nearly powerless. With certain exceptions, his faculty, usually latent, only appears spontaneously and casually in irregular and imperfect phenomena. Therefore in both cases, though the medium is the originating focus of the manifestations, he is not their only cause.
In ectoplasmic manifestations the appearance of the phenomena is necessarily induced by a dynamic and material externalisation of a portion of the organism of the medium. The pages that here immediately follow deal principally with physical mediumship. But if limited to this elementary externalisation, the phenomena will be very middling, hardly perceptible, and often nil.
If, on the contrary, a favourable environment renders possible what may be termed a "call" on the latent forces of the experimenters by the forces emanating from the medium, everything is changed.
The faculties of the medium are reinforced and increased by this association; his dynamic and material emanations become markedly stronger, and phenomena of telekinesis and materialisation immediately appear. Ochorowicz calculated, on the basis of many dynamometrical observations, that the sitters had lost energy. He concluded that the sum of such losses corresponded to the average power of a man, as if these had been used in the creation of a separate dynamic organism at the expense of the persons present, including the medium.
From the preceding it follows that the first term in the problem of experimentation consists in establishing a favourable environment. If this essential condition is not present no success is to be expected. For this reason it is absurd and useless to expect any result from competitions, challenges, or offers of prizes to mediums.
Even very powerful mediums, when isolated and disturbed by the divergent or hostile wills of a "jury," are reduced to impotence. For analogous reasons the examination of a medium by a committee composed of learned men ill-prepared for the task they have undertaken is very chancy.
If the committee is not actively interested in the task and does not conduct its experiments sympathetically, it will obtain poor results or none at all. Desert and responsibility are always collective, as are the experiments themselves. Whenever the practical study of mediumship is seriously undertaken, it is indispensable that both medium and sitters should be alike considered, since and this cannot be over-emphasised both medium and experimenters have an equal share in success or failure.
The Medium What is "a medium"? One whose constituent elements - mental, dynamic, and material - are capable of being momentarily decentralised.
The innate tendency to dissociation in these peculiar constitutions is increased by the practice of mediumship, which tends to render the primarily abnormal state more and more easy and normal. This tendency is innate. In fact, mediumship is hereditary. I have found this to be the case with all the powerful mediums that I have studied - both clairvoyants and those capable of ectoplasmic phenomena.
Sometimes this heredity is direct, sometimes it appears in ancestors or collaterals; but it is always there, so clearly as to be undeniable. Mediumship may therefore be described as an hereditary "gift" conditioned by a tendency to decentralisation of the constituent psychological factors of the medium. This notion of the hereditary nature of the "gift" allows us, in some measure, to understand why mediumship is so rare in the Western nations.
I have heard this often maintained in Poland. Poles consider that the Inquisition and legal proceedings against "sorcery" have very largely extinguished the race of mediums in Western Europe. Among the thousands of persons condemned to the stake during many centuries, the majority were victims of hysteria, along with a considerable minority of real mediums Subjective mediumship escaped destruction to some extent; but objective mediumship, being more easily discerned and more striking in its manifestations, would seem to have been nearly extirpated.
From this point of view the work of the Inquisition and prosecutions for sorcery, instituted for other ends, must have had important consequences, disastrous alike to science and to truth. Analysis of the mediumistic gift reveals two characteristics which have both practical and theoretical importance: A. Mediumship tends to appear spontaneously and early in life, like artistic gifts.
Observation confirms this. All powerful mediums are born mediums and remain so throughout life. Less powerful subjects are to be found in considerable numbers, and the development of their gift will be dependent on its training and practice. The cases of the child medium and the child artist are alike. Despite the diversity in its manifestations, all mediumship is essentially the same. To outward seeming there is nothing in common between clairvoyance and ectoplasmic phenomena.
Nevertheless, they are certainly the same in essence. In the first place, all mediums, whether subjective or objective, have a similar psychology; they are suggestible, hypersensitive, unstable in their moods, capricious, easily provoked to anger, and emotional. Moreover - and this is important - observation shows that clairvoyance and materialisation can be coexistent and sometimes alternate one with the other. As an instance of co-existent psychic and physical gifts, I will cite that of Franek Kluski.
His clairvoyance. Franek is a universal medium, a king among his contemporaries. Nevertheless, this co-existence is rare. Generally there is a sharply marked alternation between intellectual and physical mediumship.
I can quote three typical instances: 1. Eva C. This medium at certain times in her life has shown very remarkable phenomena of the intellectual type. She has "read" automatically on an imaginary screen, like that of a cinema, pages of philosophy.
These automatic productions had no relation to her normal powers and knowledge, and greatly exceeded these latter. This was very interesting, but during this period of her mediumship the ectoplasmic faculty disappeared. The wonderful clairvoyant, Stephan Ossowiecki produced extraordinary phenomena of telekinesis in his youth; but at such times his clairvoyance was eclipsed.
Madame Silbert of Graz had all her life been a clairvoyante pure and simple; she had shown no physical faculties. These observations are very important: From the theoretical point of view they prove that mediumship is at first a single faculty: a very young medium has all its potentialities.
Specialisation comes later. He is led by personal affinities, or by hereditary predisposition, to exercise only some one or other faculty, and loses the others.
But this specialisation is never absolute or final. Nevertheless, simultaneous physical and intellectual mediumship in the same person is the exception; one or other must be chosen and seems to absorb all the powers of the individual. From the practical point of view, the above-mentioned characteristics should enable us to find mediums and to train them rationally. Intellectual mediumship is vastly more common, in the West at any rate, than the physical type. It is not impossible, as we have seen, to transform a clairvoyant into a physical medium, and the younger the person the more easily this can be done; but it remains practicable even in advanced years with time and patience.
But the first condition will always be to suppress the exercise of clairvoyance. I say nothing on the rational education of mediumship, for the very good reason that evidence is wanting on this point. Lebiedzinski, an engineer at Warsaw, who has studied many mediums, gives much importance to their impulses. He thinks that most of them tend to reproduce phenomena that they have had the opportunity of seeing produced by others. Suggestions, especially those that are indirect and unconscious, also play a great part.
He thinks that in the future, new and varied phenomena may be obtained by using young mediums fresh to the subject. The future will show how much truth there is in these theoretical views. In this connection it will be well to study the influence of regimen and mode of life on the development of mediumship. Orientals, it would seem, insist on a vegetable diet and on conditions which resemble those of the Vestals of antiquity.
They claim also that experimenters should observe certain rules of life and use certain empirical procedure. In the West we have no experience of these methods of training. The Conditions for Good Output A. The medium must be in good health. Any indisposition, even if slight, diminishes or even suppresses his faculties for the time.
I have seen very powerful mediums, such as Kluski , paralysed by a cold or toothache. The medium must be in a good temper. He is a sensitive, and feels acutely the slightest moral dispositions of those about him. Experimenters should make efforts to gain his sympathy, should give him courteous attentions and treat him as a friend and coadjutor.
If they misuse him, show crude suspicion, or even despise him as a mere instrument or an animal for experimentation, they create deplorable conditions and risk total unsuccess. I repeat that sympathy between the medium and the experimenters is an essential, or nearly essential, condition for success. Irony and ridicule are even more inhibitive than ill-will or want of skill.
From the unconscious to the conscious
From the unconscious to the conscious