The Phenomenon of the SoCalled SpirithAND

The greatest philosophers of antiquity found it neither unreasonable nor strange that "souls should come to souls, and impart to them conceptions of future things, occasionally by letters, or by a mere touch, or by a glance reveal to them past events or announce future ones," as Ammonius tells us. Moreover, Lamprias and others held that if the unembodied spirits or souls could descend on earth and become guardians of mortal men, "we should not seek to deprive those souls which are still in the body of that power by which the former know future events and are able to announce them. It is not probable," adds Lamprias, "that the soul gains a new power of prophecy after separation from the body, and which before it did not possess. We may rather conclude that it possessed all these powers during its union with the body, although in a lesser perfection. . . . For as the sun does not shine only when it passes from among the clouds, but has always been radiant and has only appeared dim and obscured by vapors, the soul does not only receive the power of looking into futurity when it passes from the body as from a cloud, but has possessed it always, though dimmed by connection with the earthly."

A familiar example of one phase of the power of the soul or astral body to manifest itself, is the phenomenon of the so-called spirit-hand. In the presence of certain mediums these seemingly detached members will gradually develop from a luminous nebula, pick up a pencil, write messages, and then dissolve before the eyes of the witnesses. Many such cases are recorded by perfectly competent and trustworthy persons. These phenomena are real, and require serious consideration. But false "phantom-hands" have sometimes been taken for the genuine. At Dresden we once saw a hand and arm, made for the purpose of deception, with an ingenious arrangement of springs that would cause the machine to imitate to perfection the movements of the natural member; while exteriorly it would require close inspection to detect its artificial character. In using this, the dishonest medium slips his natural arm out of his sleeve, and replaces it with the mechanical substitute; both hands may then be made to seem resting upon the table, while in fact one is touching the sitters, showing itself, knocking the furniture, and making other phenomena.

The mediums for real manifestations are least able, as a rule, to comprehend or explain them. Among those who have written most intelligently upon the subject of these luminous hands, may be reckoned Dr. Francis Gerry Fairfield, author of Ten Years among the Mediums, an article from whose pen appears in the Library Table for July 19, 1877. A medium himself, he is yet a strong opponent of the spiritualistic theory. Discussing the subject of the "phantom-hand," he testifies that "this the writer has personally witnessed, under conditions of test provided by himself, in his own room, in full daylight, with the medium seated upon a sofa from six to eight feet from the table hovering upon which the apparition (the hand) appeared. The application of the poles of a horseshoe magnet to the hand caused it to waver perceptibly, and threw the medium into violent convulsions — pretty positive evidence that the force concerned in the phenomenon was generated in his own nervous system."

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