Automatic messages fall naturally into two general classes: (1) Motor messages, or those received by means of writing, speaking, drawing, or some activity of the body, and (2) sensory messages, or those received passively by means of an impression made upon some of the senses, as, for example, seeing, hearing, or feeling.

The motor messages spelt out by raps and table-tipping, and the performances of trance-speakers and spiritualistic mediums need not detain us at present, so far as the messages themselves are concerned they offer no new elements for consideration. The utterances of trance-speakers as a rule are not rich in verifiable facts, though some of their performances are truly remarkable as presenting a phase of improvisation automatically given; and the same may be said of mediumistic utterances generally; they have the same value as automatic writing, whether pro-198 duced by Planchette, or passively holding the pencil in the hand; and so far as they are honest they probably have the same origin, namely, the secondary consciousness or subliminal self of the medium. As regards the force which makes the raps or tips the table, it is altogether a different subject and its consideration here would be unnecessary and out of place.

I hasten to present cases of automatism where the messages brought are given by other means than writing, speaking, or any movement or activity of the body, but which belong to the sensory class, and are received by impressions made upon the senses. Of these the most common are those made upon the sense of sight.

To this class belong visions, dreams, distinct mental pictures presented under widely varying circumstances and conditions, in trance, in the hypnotic condition, in sleep, or directly conveyed to the primary conscious self. To simply think how a person, a building, or a landscape looks is one thing, but to have a full mental picture, possessing dimensions, and a stability which admits of being closely examined in detail, is quite another thing.

A little girl of my acquaintance, on returning from the country after several weeks of absence from her father, said to him, - "Why, papa, I could have you with me whenever I liked, this summer, though it was only your head and shoulders that I could see; but I could place you where I liked and could look at you a long time before you went away." Without knowing it the child exactly described a true vision - her thought of her father was visualized, externalized, given a form which had definiteness, which could be placed and examined in detail, and was more or less permanent.

Various artificial expedients have been resorted to in order to assist in this process of distinct visualization; and of these artificial means one of the most important and effective is known as crystal-gazing.

It is a fact not often commented upon - indeed not often alluded to in general literature - that the crystal has from the earliest times been made use of for the purpose of producing visions, and for divination and prophecy. Not only has the crystal been used for this purpose, but also the mirror, a cup or glass of water or wine, or even some dark and glistening substance like treacle or ink poured into the palm of the hand, have all been used in a similar manner. The same practice is still observed amongst the people of India as well as the Arabs in northern Africa and other localities. An instance or two at the outset will illustrate the method and uses of the procedure.

Mr. E. W. Lane, in his "Manners and Customs of the Modern "Egyptians," published in 1836, gives this example: -

Mr. Salt, the English consul-general to that country, had greatly interested Mr. Lane by some experiences which he related, and had thus excited his curiosity to witness some of these experiments himself. Mr. Salt had suspected some of his servants of theft, but could not decide which one was guilty; so it was arranged to test the powers of some of the native seers. Accordingly a magician was sent for; a boy was also necessary to act as seer, or as we would say crystal-gazer, and for this purpose Mr. Salt selected one himself.

The magician wrote several charms, consisting of Arabic words, on pieces of paper, which were burnt in a brazier with a charcoal fire along with incense and perfumes. He then drew a diagram in the palm of the boy's right hand, and into the middle of this diagram he poured some ink. He then asked the boy to look intently at the ink in the palm of his hand. The boy soon began to see figures of persons in the ink, and presently described the thief so minutely that he was at once recognized by Mr. Salt, and on being arrested and accused of the crime he immediately confessed his guilt.

Further investigation by Mr. Lane and Mr. Salt furnished other interesting results. A boy eight or nine years of age was usually chosen at random from those who happened to be passing by. Invocations were written upon paper by the magician, calling upon his familiar spirit, and also a verse from the Koran "to open the boy's eyes in a supernatural manner so as to make his sight pierce into what is to us the invisible world." These were thrown into a brazier with live charcoal and burned with aromatic seeds and drugs. The magic square, that is a square within a square, was drawn in the boy's palm, and certain Arabic characters were written in the spaces between the squares; ink was then poured into the centre, and upon that the boy was to gaze intently. In this way visions were produced and various persons and scenes were described. Finally, Mr. Lane desired that Lord Nelson should be called for. The boy described a man in European clothes of dark blue, who had lost his left arm; but looking closer he added - "No, it is placed to his breast."

Lord Nelson had lost his right arm and it was his custom to carry the empty sleeve attached to his breast. Mr. Lane adds, "Without saying that I suspected the boy had made a mistake I asked the magician whether objects appeared in the ink as if actually before the boy's eyes, or as if in a glass, which made the right side appear the left? He replied, 'They appear as in a mirror,' This rendered the boy's description faultless."