This being true, two conclusions are obvious; namely, (1) That the phenomena of spirit photography are easily accounted for, without the necessity of attributing them to extramundane origin; and (2) That the power resides in the subjective mind of man to create phantasms perceptible to the objective senses of others. Again, it seems to be well established by experiment that some persons have the power, not only to create such phantasms, but to endow them with a certain degree of intelligence and power. Thus, the experiments recorded in "Phantasms of the Living," and quoted in a preceding chapter of this book, show that the image of the agent was not only created by him in his sleep, but was projected into the presence of others at a long distance from where he slept. The image was not only perceptible to the sight, as much so as the real presence would have been, but in some instances it was even tangible. The Orientalists call this the "projection of the astral body," and it is claimed that many persons in the East have acquired the power to produce the phenomenon at will. The fact that phantasms can thus be produced being well authenticated, many old stories of such phenomena acquire a new interest and importance, and assume an air of probability.
Thus, the old stories of witches, in so far as the alleged phenomena seem to have been produced under the same conditions as those which are well authenticated, are elevated into the region of possibility, if not of probability. They are at least worthy of re-examination, in the light of modern experiments. It is foreign to my purpose to enter at large into the discussion of the alleged phenomena of so-called witchcraft, and this allusion is made here for the purpose of suggesting to those who desire to pursue the subject that if they will take for granted that which has been demonstrated to be true in regard to the power of the sub-conscious mind, or personality, to project tangible phantasms or images, and will apply the doctrine of duality and suggestion to the alleged facts, the old stories of the phei9 nomena of witchcraft will be found to possess a scientific value and importance which cannot be ignored in the study of psychology.
For the purposes of this argument it will be assumed that the power of man, under certain conditions, to project phantasms is provisionally established. The next question is, What are the conditions? If we find that the conditions are practically the same in all cases, one great step in the classification of the phenomena will have been taken.
The one condition which seems to be necessary in all cases for the production of the phenomena is that of profound , sleep, either natural or artificial. The objective senses must be locked in slumber, and the more profound the sleep, the greater the power seems to be. Thus, in the cases recorded in "Phantasms of the Living," the sleep was natural, but profound. It was at least so profound that the agent had no recollection of actually doing what he had resolved to do, and it was only brought to his knowledge by the subsequent statements made by the percipients. It is said, however, that sometimes the agent retains full recollection of what he did. Be this as it may, the fact remains that the one essential condition for the successful production of the phenomena is that of sleep. Again, the Orientalists tell us the same thing. Their adepts lock themselves in their rooms, which are carefully protected against invasion, and go into a sleep so profound as to simulate death. The witches were known to employ artificial means to produce sleep. Formulae for producing what was known as "witches' ointment " are still extant. It was composed of the most powerful narcotics, made into an ointment by the addition of some fatty substance.
The body of the witch was anointed from head to foot, and she then went to bed in some place secure from observation or disturbance, and lapsed into a profound sleep. This much is known, and many wonderful phenomena are alleged to have been produced, prominent among which was the creation of various shapes, such as the image of herself, images of cats, dogs, wolves, etc., which were sent to worry and annoy her neighbors or any one against whom she had a grudge. In fact, the shapes alleged to have been produced are protean.
Another alleged phenomenon of cognate character is that of so-called spirit materialization. In the production of this phenomenon the conditions are the same. The medium goes into a trance, or hypnotic state, and projects the shapes of various persons, generally of the deceased friends of some of those present. A good medium will produce any number of visions, of any number of persons, men and women, large and small. Spiritists believe, of course, that the real spirits of their friends are present, and are thus made visible to mortal eyes, and in many instances tangible, and able to hold a brief conversation with their friends. As the intellectual part of the performance of these alleged spirits is always on a par with that of other forms of spirit manifestation, subject to the same limitations and governed by the same laws, we must come to the same conclusion as to their origin, namely, that, whatever it may be, it is not due to spirits of the dead.