The old stories of the power of magicians to conjure alleged spirits are also raised into the region of probability by these considerations. They also observed the same conditions required in all the other cases mentioned. By the performance of certain impressive ceremonies, which they were taught to believe were necessary, they were said to be able to evoke so-called spirits and to do many other wonderful things. The ceremonies and incantations, together with the impressive environment with which they surrounded themselves, the incense, the slow music, the "dim religious light," the solemn invocations, - all had a tendency to throw them into the subjective condition, and thus enable them to evoke the shapes desired. That these shapes were literal creations of the subjective personality of the magician, rather than the actual spirits invoked, there is every reason to believe. Nor are we alone in that opinion. Eliphas Levi, than whom no modern writer on the subject of magic is better informed or more honest in the expression of his real convictions, gives utterance to the following:-
"Human thought creates what it imagines; the phantoms of superstition project their real deformity in the Astral Light, and live by the very terrors they produce. They owe their being to the delusions of imagination and to the aberration of the senses, and are never produced in the presence of any one who knows and can expose the mystery of their monstrous birth."1
Again, on page 160, he says: -
"The evokers of the Devil must before all things belong to a religion which believes in a Devil who is the rival of God. To have recourse to a power, we must believe in it. A firm faith being therefore granted in the religion of Satan, here is the method of communicating with this pseudo-god: -
Within the circle of its action, every Logos creates what it affirms.
He who affirms the Devil creates the Devil".
The author then goes on to give minute directions for performing the ceremonies necessary for raising the Devil, so to speak, with which we have nothing to do at present; these quotations being made merely for the purpose of showing that the greatest and most philosophical magician of this century was fully aware that the shapes evoked by the Magi, whether they be of angels or of demons, whether they be perceptible to the objective senses or merely subjective hallucinations, tangible or intangible, are the creations of the mind of the magician..
The phenomenon of crystal vision is another illustration of the power of the subjective mind to create visions. Ordinarily these visions are only perceptible to the operator; but cases are recorded where they were perfectly perceptible to the bystanders. The conditions necessary for successful crystal reading are practically the same as in all other cases, although the subjective condition is not ordinarily so pronounced. This phenomenon illustrates, however, the power of the subjective mind to create phantasms, and constitutes one of the many methods of bringing the operations of the subjective mind above the threshold of consciousness. It is one of the best methods known of exercising the power of telepathy, the visions being objective reproductions of what is real or perceived in the mind of the person who consults the medium. If no one is present besides the medium or operator, he sees merely what his own subjective mind creates. It is perhaps superfluous to remark that the phenomenon is governed by the same laws which pertain to all other subjective phenomena, and the intelligence displayed is hedged about by the same limitations.
1 Eliphas Levi: Waite's Digest, p. 118.
I have now enumerated several different sub-classes of the phenomena which are concerned in the creation of visions. In each sub-class instances are recorded of the visions being made perceptible to the objective senses of others. As remarked in the beginning of this chapter, we do not propose to stop to verify the phenomena of each class. It is sufficient to know that the phenomena of one of the sub-classes is verified by scientific authority. For present purposes the rest must stand or fall by that. At any rate, we shall assume the right to hold that any cognate phenomenon, alleged to have been produced under the same conditions as those which have been demonstrated to be veridical, is entitled to tentative consideration and credit.
It is assumed, therefore, that the following propositions are sufficiently verified for the purpose of formulating a definite theory of proximate causation: -
1. The alleged phenomena are all produced under the same conditions.
2. The one essential condition is that of the partial or total suspension of objective consciousness.
3. The more complete the extinction of the objective consciousness, the more pronounced the success of the experiment; that is, the more tangible to the objective senses of others do the creations become.
From these facts it is fair to conclude, - 1. That the power to create phantasms resides and is inherent in the subjective mind, or personality, of man.
2. That the power becomes greater as the body approaches nearer to the condition of death; that is, as the subjective, or hypnotic, condition becomes deeper, and the subjective personality in consequence becomes stronger in its sphere of activity.
3. That at the hour of death, or when the functions of the body are entirely suspended, the power is greatest.
It will be understood from the foregoing that my theory is that ghosts, or phantasms of the dead, are produced exactly as phantasms of the living are produced; that is, they are creations of the subjective entity. How they are created is of course a question that may never be answered in terms comprehensible by the objective intelligence of man. It is as far beyond our finite comprehension as are the processes by which the Infinite Mind has brought the universe into being. All that we can know is the fact that phantasms are created by some power inherent in the subjective personality of man. They may be called "embodied thoughts," as man may be called the embodied thought of God. If, as the Scriptures teach us, "we are gods," that is, "sons of God " and "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ," it is fair to presume that that part of the Infinite which is embodied in each of us must partake, to a limited extent, of His power to create. Experimental psychology suggests to us that we have that power, and that it is thus that phantasms are produced.
To the supposition that phantasms of the dead are thus created is opposed but one other hypothesis, and that is, that the phantasms are the real spirits of the dead persons whom they represent. Granted that ghosts do exist and make themselves manifest to the living, one or the other of these hypotheses must be true, and the other false. To determine which is true, we must have recourse to the ghosts themselves; that is, we must collate the facts regarding the characteristics of these supposed dwellers on the border-land, and ask ourselves whether their known and admitted characteristics are those which would naturally belong to the real spirit of a man, or to an embodied thought of a man.
The salient characteristics which seem to belong to all ghosts, and which pertain to the question under consideration, are these:-