Section VI

[At this time I met Mr. Home. It chanced to be the Derby Day, and it was said through him that conditions were so interfered with that spirits could do nothing. On the next day (May 29) I had some conversation on the subject, in the course of which it was written:]

Any such occasion disturbs the moral conditions, and renders it hard for us to reach you. The spirits who are antagonistic to us are massed together in great force whenever any occasion is offered for them to operate successfully on men who are gathered together for the purpose of gratifying their bodily passions. Yesterday there were vast masses whose passion of cupidity was excited to an enormous degree. They were the point of attack from similar spirits. Others there were whose bodies were wildly excited by intoxicating drinks; others who were feverish with expectation of coming gains; others again plunged into depths of despair by loss of all, the ready prey, these last, of the suggestions of tempting spirits; and even when these baser passions were not actively excited, the moral balance was upset; that calmness and equability which should regulate the temper, and which are as a shield against the foe, were absent, and so a chance of favourable assault was given. For, short of absolute evil, much ground for assault is given by an ill-regulated, disordered mind, by minds unhinged and ill-balanced. Avoid all such. They are frequently the ready agents of spirit influence, but of undeveloped and unwelcome guides. Beware of immoderate, unreasoning, excited frames of mind.

For these reasons the occasion to which you refer is one that would make largest demands on the efforts of the agents of good, lest the undeveloped, massed and disciplined for assault, succeed and draw down souls.

But what you say would apply to all national holidays?

Not necessarily so. So long as a holiday is associated with giving a loose rein to passion, with the immoderate use of fiery, intoxicating poison, with sensual gratifications, with the body and not with the spirit, it must needs be so. The body so situated places the spirit at the mercy of the adversaries. But the holiday that is associated with the rest of body and refreshment of spirit is far from being such. When the bodily powers which have been drained by overtaxing work are recuperated by genial and moderate rest; when the mind, vexed and harrassed by the worries and anxieties of daily toil, is refreshed by moderate amusement, and by being relaxed and plunged for a while in oblivion of anxious care, the while it is braced and stimulated by pleasant change; when this is so, a gentle calm pervades the spirit, and renders it peculiarly open to the beneficent influences of the heavenly guardians. Thus the power of angel ministry is strengthened, and the plans of the most powerful adversaries are set at naught. You must progress far in knowledge of spirit guidance and of the duties you owe to yourselves before your national holidays become aught but opportunities for the degradation of your people. The holiday that is marked by riot and debauchery, by sensuality and gambling, and evil, angry passion and despair, this is no holy day to us, but one to be dreaded and watched and prayed over. God help and guard the blind souls in their insensate folly!

[I find that our seance was disturbed at this time by some erratic manifestations, and an attempt to obtain photographs of some of the communicating spirits resulted in failure. Although the spirit whose figure was on the plate claimed the name of Rector, it was said by my friend that it was a spirit with whom they had no connection, a deceptive spirit, unknown to any of them. I sat down to obtain further information, but got nothing that was intelligible, and was obliged to cease. On the next day, when I had regained my usual passive state, the writing came unasked. Respecting the difficulties that had arisen in manifesting, I inquired if we could help in any way.]

Rector could not communicate with you on the account of your disturbed condition, consequent on the sitting which had severely taxed you. The information given was quite unreliable. Your mind was violently positive. You had assumed the picture to be of Rector, and he was not sufficiently acquainted with this kind of communication to know that your unhinged and feverish state, coupled with a positive and unimpressionable state of mind, made it impossible to convey any true information to you.

When you feel such conditions present, seek no communications on any subject. They will be unreliable or imperfect under such circumstances, and in many cases hurtful.

[I was much annoyed, and complained that my scanty stock of faith would be drained by many such occurances. It had never occured before. It was replied:]

You have never placed yourself in communication save when I (Doctor) or someone who can warn and guard you has been present. You have done so when the spirits who control the physical elements in the circle have alone been present, and the results were violent and unmanageable. You were warned then: this is another warning. Your positive mind Rector could not influence: and your fevered state made it impossible to control you.

[Since then I have been scrupulously careful never to attempt automatic writing when I am physically ill or in pain, mentally worried or anxious, or near any person so suffering, or in the midst of any influences that might be disturbing. To this precaution I attribute much of the regular and equable character of my communications. As a rule, they are curiously fluent; the books in which they are written show no erasure or alteration: and the tone of the messages is very level and sustained.]

Keep yourself as passive and quiet as you can. When overtired with work, or fretted with care, or exhausted, do not attempt to seek communion with us. Do not add to the circle any new elements which do but disturb and perplex conditions. Suffer us to perfect our experiments before you interfere to spoil them. We will advise you of any change we wish in the composition of our circle. Do not alter the room in which you meet: and strive in so far as may be to meet with a passive mind and a healthy body.

Yes, working all day with body and brain does not improve conditions, I suppose. But Sunday is generally worse.

It is not a favourable day for us, because, when the strain is removed from mind and body, the reaction leaves the spirit disinclined for action and more apt for repose. We are fearful of cultivating new manifestations with you; we fear experimenting with physical manifestations lest they do harm. Moreover, they are not our object, only subsidiary to it. They are but the signs which witness to our mission; and we do not desire that you rest in them. There is also a special reason why we are unable to manifest on Sunday for you. You do not know the difficulty which changes in conditions make to us. You have heard before that sitting down immediately after a meal is not good. The bodily conditions which we seek for are passivity and quickness of receptivity: but not the passivity which comes from sluggishness and torpor. No worse condition can be than that state of somnolence and torpor which follows on a plentiful meal during which stimulating drink has been taken. Such stimulus may aid the physical manifestations in some cases, but it is a bar to us. It opens the door for the advent of the more material spirits, and stops our power. We have frequently found our plans frustrated by such means. You would do well to think of this and guard yourselves against excess in any way when you are about to seek communion with us. The body should not be heated nor torpid with food: nor the mind drowsy and inactive. Both conditions prevent us from operating freely. They react on us, and sensibly mar our power. One such member in a circle, even as one ailing or suffering, will create conditions which we cannot overcome.

But a weak body and temper disturbed by want of food is bad, surely?

We do but counsel moderation. The body should be strengthened with food, but you should not sit down until the food is assimilated. You require moderate stimulant to fit you for your daily work, but that should be guardedly taken, and you should see that you do not enter into communion with us save under such conditions as we have stated. When mind or body is predisposed to sleep or indisposed to sustained attention, or sick or suffering, it is better not to sit save under direction. Equally when the body is replete with food, the grosser spirits may be expected to be in the ascendant, and we are unable to operate. Even the physical phenomena are then of a ruder and more violent character, and not of the delicate and beautiful description which they would assume under more favourable circumstances. We do not desire extremes. A body wasted by fasting is not in any way profitable: but neither is a body which is clogged and loaded by over-indulgence. Temperance and moderation are what help us. If you desire, friend, to facilitate our work, and to attain the best results, you should bring to the sitting a body healthy and sound, senses clear and watchful, and a mind passive and receptive. Then we can do for you more than you think. With a circle harmonious and properly constituted the manifestations would be more delicate, and the teaching given more refined and trustworthy. Even the light of which you spoke(*) under such conditions is pale, clear, and smokeless: under unfavourable conditions would be dull, dirty, and smoky in appearance.

It having been said that a friend and his wife who had frequently manifested were now removed to other spheres of work, I asked whether the marriage ties were perpetuated.

That depends entirely on similarity of taste and equality of development. In the case of this being attained, the spirits can progress side by side. In our state we know only of community of taste and of association between those who are on the same plane and can be developed by mutual help. All things with us are subordinated in the education of the spirit, which is perpetually being developed. There can be no community of interest save between congenial souls. Consequently no tie can be perpetuated which is not a help to progress. The uncongenial bonds which have embittered the soul's earth life, and marred its upward progress, cease with the bodily existence. The union of soul with soul which in the body has been a source of support and assistance is developed and increased after the spirit is free. The loving bonds which encircle such souls are the greatest incentive to mutual development, and so the relations are perpetuated, not because they have once existed, but because in the eternal fitness of things they minister to the spirit's education. In such cases the marriage tie is perpetuated, but only in such sort as the bond of fellowship between friends endures, and is strengthened by mutual help and progress. All souls that are mutually helpful remain in loving intercourse so long as it is profitable for them. When the period arrives at which it is more profitable for them to separate they go their way without sorrow, for they can still commune and share each other's interests. The reverse of such law would only perpetuate misery, and eternally bar progress. Nothing is permitted to do this.

No. But some, I can conceive, may not be exactly on the same mental or moral plane, and yet be full of mutual love.

Spirits filled with mutual love can never be really separated. You are hampered in understanding our state by considerations of time and space. You cannot understand how souls can be far apart, as you count space, and yet be, as you would say, intimately united. We know no time, no space. We could not obtain really close union with any spirit unless the intelligence be absolutely on the same mental and progressive plane. Indeed, any such union would be impossible for us. Soul may be linked with soul in bonds of affection, without an intimate connection such as we mean by being on the same plane of development. Love unites spirits at whatever distance. You see that in your low state of existence. The brother loves the brother, though vast expanse of ocean separates their homes, the long years have rolled away since the eye looked on the form and the ear listened to the words of the absent one. Their pursuits may be widely different: they may have no mutual idea, yet mutual love exists. The wife loves the degraded besotted ruffian who mutilates her body and strives to crush her spirit.

The hour of dissolution will free her from slavery and pain. She will soar while he will sink; but the bond of love will not be snapped, though the spirits may no longer consort together. Even here space is annihilated: with us it does not exist. And so you may dimly understand that with us union means identity of development, community of interest, mutual and affectionate progression. We know no such indissoluble ties as exist with you.

Then the Bible words are true, "They neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God"?

It was truly said. We have before told you of the law of Progress and of the law of Association. They are invariable. Much that now seems good to you, you will throw aside with the body. Your state now colours your views. Much we are obliged to clothe in allegory, and to elucidate by borrowing your phraseology. So that you must not insist too strongly on literal meanings of words used by us to describe what exists only with us, which finds no counterpart in your world, and transcends your present knowledge, and which therefore can only be approximately described in language borrowed from earth. This is a necessary caution.

Yes. That would account for discrepancies in spirit communications in some cases.

Such differences arise in many cases from want of knowledge on the part of the spirits themselves; from their inability to get their ideas through the channel of communication: from imperfect conditions at the time of the communication, and from other causes. Doubtless, one cause is, that curious and foolish questions bring foolish answers from spirits on the plane of the questioner.

But would not a high spirit endeavour to raise the questioner instead of "answering a fool according to his folly"?

Yes, were it possible; but the foolish frame of mind precludes too frequently such raising. Like attracts like, and the silly, curious inquirers who ask from no desire for information, but only to gratify a whim or an idle curiosity, or to entangle us in our talk, is answered, if at all, by a spirit like himself. Such is not the frame of mind in which to seek communion with us. A reverent, earnest mind gains for itself that information and instructions which it is capable of receiving. The self-conceited, flippant, ignorant, and curious receive only what they seek, and are sent away without reply, or with such as suits their query. Flee such. They are empty and foolish.

(*) At this time we had a number of large phosphorescent lights at our ordinary sittings: clear and of a pale yellow under good conditions; red, and smokey when anything was wrong. These lights were similar to the lamp borne by the spirit John King, and attained a great size under favourable conditions.