Excerpt from Practical Occultism – A COURSE OF LECTURES THROUGH THE TRANCE MEDIUMSHIP OF J.J. MORSE.1887
Our topic is the “Trance as the Doorway to the Occult,” dealing with it in its natural, magnetic, and spiritual methods of induction, and endeavouring, as a consequence, to show you what a wondrous and marvellous doorway into the unseen there is treasured within the life possibilities of all humanity; for we hold it as one of the cardinal principles of being, that the constitution of humanity at large is practically a unit in its character, — that there is no possibility pertaining to any one of the children of earth that is not also latent in all other of earth’s children.
The variousness of development, the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of individual character, and the opportunities of exercise, alone constitute the differentiating conditions which give to one a seeming excess of development, and to another no apparent manifestation at all. But, by and by, in the progress of humanity, when the laws of being are more correctly and truly understood, it will be found how each and all of you, within the measure of your capacities, in accordance with your possibilities, and in relation to your requirements, will be able to develop all the possibilities that are latent in humanity, collectively as well as individually. Then mystery, and all the results of ignorance and superstition, shall be banished from the pathway, and the unseen and spiritual life of man, with all its qualities and attributes, shall stand revealed as plainly and as clearly to the understanding as do your surroundings in the external universe to-day.
The Trance condition is the warrant of death and the prophecy of futurity; it is, in its revelation of the higher capacities of human nature, the measure and certain indication, the hand-post, as it were, upon the highway of eternal life, pointing to the mountains of wisdom, that lie, perhaps, still enshrouded by the mists of ignorance, and thereby concealed from the understanding of humanity to-day. We are aware that this is a great and somewhat startling claim, but yet we think the matters we are about to present will more than justify it; for you will bear in mind that if death be an impassable gulf over which the spirit can never return to mortality, there can be no sort of evidence presented in this world that can tell you what is upon the other side of that gulf. But if there can be a miniature representation of, or a correspondence to, that phenomenon which is called death, then there is a vindication of death, an interpretation of its issues, an explanation of its consequences; and if that miniature representation can be experienced by the individual and he return to human life and consciousness again, two ends are gained; first, the realization of an existence of himself apart from his external and material body with its outward consciousness; secondly, his ability to triumph over the limitations of his material environments, and then return to all its possessions in their fullness and entirety.
Thus you see that virtually the Trance, which is this miniature representation of death, gives you the key by which you may transcend the environments of mortality and ascend into the domain of spirituality. It is, indeed, the doorway to the occult, — to that which is hidden from the ordinary investigation and outward consciousness; a passageway from the realm of action upon the external side of life to the realm of action upon the internal side of life; but in every case its opening depends upon your own organic constitutions, your mental, nervous, and spiritual possibilities and environments, — the means upon which you will be dependent to open this portal for yourselves.
All life, intelligence, and conscious action, so far as man is concerned, is, as you know, a duality; it has its outward expression upon the plane of physical existence, as well as it has its interior or spiritual expressions of which you alone are conscious. All that your fellows outside of yourself can know of you is that amount of your spiritual self which expresses itself in your actions and your speech; but even these are cumbered, covered up obscured, and diverted, by the external causes impinging upon your actions and life from day to day. Therefore it is possible that one may grasp your hand, gaze into your eyes, and hear your voice day after day for years, and be no nearer knowing you than had you never met. But could you find a way by which you could enter into each other’s essential nature, by which you could spiritually come en rapport, then, perchance, it might be discovered that you were altogether different kind of people beneath the outward seeming, — that you had altogether a different identity; that there was a better part of you, — a more wonderful part, a part removed from the external life, a spiritual part that was struggling and striving, imperfectly, alas! in many cases, to make itself known through the outward manifestations of sense and thought and action. Some there are (more perhaps than might be expected) whose inner natures flash and glow through the outward forms of life and conduct; and these royal souls are among the leaders, heroes, and the nobler sorts of men; and when you clasp their hands you feel the power of this inward something magnetically beating upon your own pulses, echoing in the chambers of your mind, and flashing before the windows of your own souls. But, alas! these better sorts of people are, in the main, few and far between to-day, for this reason: the outward cares of life often blunt and dull the finer sensibilities of human nature, so that but little of this better part of man can find expression in the daily life of humanity at large.
But there is this doorway to your better selves. Not only is it true that you are sometimes as sealed books to your fellows, but you are also sealed books, to a large extent, to yourselves. Let us illustrate the point. You are engaged in a harsh round of toil; duty presses heavy upon you and weighs your spirit down, and you have no time or leisure for reflection or meditation; every moment of your day is occupied, and at night when you seek your couch for rest, brain and body are alike too tired to think or meditate, and you welcome as the best relief the oblivion sleep can give. But, by and by, there comes a time when your affairs change and you can rest, and then you begin to think; reflection asserts her power, meditation becomes frequent, loving influences brood upon your soul; and straightway you begin to realize there are faculties, powers, and possibilities in your nature that you have scarcely ever dreamed of before. Instinctively there is borne into your consciousness the understanding of a better part, and you wonder how it is that this spiritual part has been voiceless for all the preceding years. Sometimes this voice is called forth by what is called religious conviction; sometimes it arises simply out of enthusiasm for a noble purpose, or an interest in some great cause may kindle it into action. With nearly all mankind there is some time in their lives when this part asserts itself. Let us urge you by every power of persuasion not to hide this better part, but to obey its impulses, to cultivate its powers, and seek henceforth to rule your lives intelligently in harmony therewith.
What is meant by the statement that the Trance is the doorway to the Occult ? It is really the method by which you are enabled to solve the problem of death without dying, to come face to face with the realities of the immortal life without actually becoming an entity living therein. Is this true? Our answer is yes; for experience abundantly substantiates it.
The methods of induction by which the trance can be established relate to the possibilities of a person inducing that state in themselves by themselves; to the possibility of that state being induced by another person upon them; and lastly, to the possibility of that state being induced by persons not living in the world wherein the entranced person lives. These give us, as you will see, the natural, magnetic, and spiritual forms of induction. The last form might be disputed by those who are unacquainted with spiritual, psychological, or occult matters; because, they will urge, how can it be possible that a being living in another grade of life altogether invisible and unseen to us can induce a psychological condition upon a person living in this world; there is no relationship, and therefore there can be no influence exerted. This argument is fallacious; it discloses ignorance rather than knowledge; for if, as we shall presently see, there is this other part of man just referred to, this spiritual side of his nature, then that spiritual side must of necessity be related to, and will present a plane or point of contact for, the unseen inhabitants of the inner life, when they desire to produce the outward physiological effect denominated the trance.
What are the first conditions to create that receptive and responsive condition in the human structure by which the trance in any form is rendered possible? In the first place, let us turn our glance to the physical conditions.
The trance depends much more upon this than is usually supposed. It is generally thought that you must be willing to be entranced and desire it, but this is not all the question. It depends also to a large extent upon the physical conditions; and if those conditions are in a state of irritation, that irritation will certainly react upon the mental condition, and the passivity requested will be to that extent destroyed. Therefore, the first condition we would insist upon is the nearest possible approach to physical healthfulness. We know it is commonly urged that the trance is an abnormal condition, and that therefore the subject should be more or less in an abnormal condition of health; it is pointed out that numbers of the magnetic and spiritual subjects are persons whose health would not be considered good, and from that has arisen the argument that all subjects must necessarily be persons of abnormal health. This, as a general proposition, however, is radically wrong; that it is so in many cases to-day we are prepared to admit; but, we repeat, it is radically wrong. The highest requirements of the human organism can only be attained when that organism is in its highest condition of health, and when harmoniously operating in every department. The highest condition of health does not mean a gross physical man where all the mental and spiritual growth is sacrificed to a splendid animal body.
A perfect condition of physical health is cleanliness and harmoniousness in every department. Therefore the stomach, the liver, the various departments of the internal viscera, the circulation of the blood, the blood itself, the heart and lungs, and all the vital organism should be in that perfectly clean and healthy state wherein the individual realizes the fullest and completest benefits from being alive. When this is established the first step has been taken. We need not remind you that all that would befoul and clog the system must be avoided; that you must pay the closest attention to personal sanitation and to everything that pertains to the well-being of the human organism. If you wish to pass through the doorway of the Trance into the domain of the Occult, you must be prepared to make some sacrifices in order to gain the privileges you desire. But, remember, that, after all, these sacrifices are mostly of conventional forms; you must be prepared to sacrifice many of the enjoyments and privileges that conventional civilization accords to you, and we frankly tell you that a great many of these privileges are a bane to you, rather than a blessing.
Then the next question is the mental state; for physical health, harmony, and cleanliness are but stepping-stones to mental cleanliness and harmony. Without this condition of the mentality, the desired end will, generally, be more or less defeated.
Sometimes it is necessary to temporarily surrender even the senses, also your likes and dislikes, to school yourself for the time to submission. The apprentice has to submit to the guidance of a master hand, that he may be taught to accomplish the results that the training of the master will enable him to reach. So you, as apprentices in the occult, must temporarily be learners, must be pupils, must subject yourselves to the greater will and experience. Therefore the mind must be calm, harmonious, and submissive; and when the positive part of the mind and the will are thus in a passive condition, the spiritual forces will be conditioned in like manner; and you will find that all the vital forces, instead of vibrating with the intense activities that characterize their movement when the individual is acting for himself, or when all the forces of the body are in full sway, will be reduced to the lowest rate of vibratory movement. In some places the vibratory movement can scarcely be detected, being as the imperceptible movement of still waters in a pool. Then we find the pulsing of the superior forces in the brain becomes calm, the beautiful light suffusing this organ loses the intensity of its brilliancy and activity, and settling as a golden glory it seems as if waiting for something to occur; then this light appears like the sweet summer haze settling over the field before the evening breeze begins to stir. But if we look a little deeper we shall find there is a movement beginning to express itself; and that movement commences directly the first attempt is made to induce the trance by the aid of human magnetism when the operator concentrates his mind upon the subject, and either by his gaze or the passage of his hands discharges from him that vital fluid which bears the name of human magnetism. That fluid impinges upon the external magnetic sphere of the subject and produces a commotion therein, which motion is taken up by the muscular and nervous forces, and is by them carried to the stomach, the lungs, and the superior organ, the brain. The reaction from the stomach and the lungs produces a singular disturbance in the lower brain or cerebellum, and the disturbance of this lower brain exerts a sort of excitation which, in its operation, affects the upper or superior portions of the brain, and seems temporarily to excite it and the forces therein. This commotion, besides being an excitation proceeding from the lower to the upper brain, creates also a further reaction upon the entire viscera of the subject; for the excitement of the brain is communicated to the internal organs through the various ganglia and the great sympathetic nerve. Frequently this reaction produces a feeling of nausea of the stomach, followed by a species of spasm or convulsion that runs through the en-tire nervous system. Hence you will observe the subject gasp and yawn, the face become flushed, tears flow from the eyes, the breathing becomes heavy, and there will be indications of sickness and spasms, excitement and hysteria, — all because of this reactive influence of the lower brain operating upon the sympathetic nerve aud ganglia, and through those descending into the internal organs producing reactions there.
You will have observed that some magnetizers find it best to direct the magnetic force to the pit of the stomach, while others find it best to direct it to the heart and lungs, others to look into the eye, others to merely operate upon the frontal brain at first, others between the shoulders and upon the nape of the neck, where they place the fingers to discharge the magnetic fluid into the system. No operator will confine himself to any one particular method, and it may be that the necessities of certain subjects will demand that the operator shall proceed in none of the ways we have just referred to. But in any case the result obtained is the same, and is precisely identical whatever method to induce it is pursued. That result is the withdrawal of the action of the muscular and nervous forces from their external centres of operation and sensation, and the concentration of them upon the brain itself for the purpose of effecting an awakening of the interior powers.
The Trance, of course, presupposes (by an artificial compelling shall we call it) a cessation of external sensation and a withdrawal of all the ordinary methods of expression, and an opening of the interior perception belonging to the spiritual nature.
When all these results have been carried forward to a certain degree, the subject will be induced into the magnetic state, or mesmeric trance, which represents approximately that condition the human structure will be in when it is finally dead. Then a further process is required. To put a body to sleep, to lock up its senses in the embrace of an artificial death, to seal up the ears and mouth and eyes, is, after all, but a poor process, without the ultimate result of awakening the consciousness upon the inner plane. But when such awakening is accomplished, then the individual becomes clairvoyant.
The spiritual counterparts of the physical senses are then awakened, so that the spiritual eye will see spiritual things, the spiritual ear will receive the vibrations of the spiritual atmosphere, the spiritual brain will respond to the thoughts of the spiritual realm, and the individual being thus partially enfranchised, partially inducted through the doorway into the occult realms, into the realms concealed from the outer senses, will see and hear and know and have a rational understanding of the conditions belonging to that which is called the Occult realm of life.
Can the knowledge of these things be transmitted to the outer consciousness, and be retained and remembered by the individual, when the magnetic process is reversed and the locked forces of the body are again sent upon their usual mission? Yes, by the will of the magnetizer the experiences of the sleeping subject (to use the familiar phrase) can be directed to the channels of the mind, to the chambers of the memory, through which, and in which, these interior experiences can be stored; so that, when the individual is brought back again to the normal state, slowly, as the mind clears, and he is able again to handle the machinery of his outer consciousness, he can bring to memory the facts and experiences of his interior state, and tell you what he saw, what he did, and where he went.
But you will ask here — though scarcely necessary — how are we to know that, when the individual is thus inducted magnetically into the trance state, he really has seen and heard and known things that do not belong to this outward state of ours? When he tells you, as he can and does many times, of those whom the world hath lost sight of for years, who, perhaps, have been mourned as gone forever, — when he brings you some fact that upon further inquiry clearly proves he has seen the world wherein departed humanity exists, — the testimony must be accepted just the same as the testimony of the traveller who visits a distant country and returns to tell you of its people and its nature.
The constant induction of the magnetic trance is an experience not to be sought. Any method or power that always demands your reliance upon it is a dangerous method, an injurious power. It teaches you the lesson of dependence rather than independence; it teaches you to be always leaning upon somebody stronger than yourself, rather than impressing upon you the duty of developing your own strength so that you may walk alone. But, as a means of opening the door, as a means of carrying you forward to the occult, and bringing you face to face with the facts and purposes belonging to it, the magnetic induction of the trance is primarily and preeminently a necessity in the great majority of cases.
Now when the psychologist grows just a trifle wiser and learns a little more — not so very much — he will be able to take another step in his own usefulness, and be able to exalt his subjects to a greater degree of value to the world. When he has induced them into the magnetic state he will then teach them how to understand that state while they are in it, so that they, themselves, may induce it, by first showing how they may release themselves from it. He will be able to say, “I have opened the door for you, I have explained the nature of the lock upon it to you, and if you will follow my instructions you will be able to open and close this door whenever you desire. The key is yours; you can use it, and the bolts of the lock will ever respond to it.”
If another can induce the trance for you, why should you not be able to enter that state yourself unaided ? What another can do for you, you can do for yourself. It is only the knowing of the how that stands in the way. How, then,can you do this? Concentration of mind requires meditation, and a determined effort upon your part to withdraw yourself from external attractions, influences, and sensations, — these are the necessary stages towards the self induction of the trance; and when by due attention to other circumstances and surroundings you can seclude yourselves and concentrate your minds upon the determination to withdraw from the external life, from the external senses of the body, from the external desires and activities of daily life, and retire within yourself, you will then find yourself seeking in the right direction for what you wish to accomplish. How often do you do this partially when meditating, or while indulging in pleasant reveries?
There you sit lost to the outer life and senses, within yourself and forgetful of all around you, even sometimes forgetting you are living in this world. If you add to this an intelligent desire and an earnest purpose, then you will seal your outward senses completely and pass into the realm of the impalpable and occult, and of yourself gain the knowledge by your own efforts that Jiitherto you were dependent upon the aid of magnetizers to accomplish for you.
Some will ask, ” Is it safe ? Is it dangerous? Would I ever wake up again ? ” When you have been trained in the first manner referred to and spiritually made conscious of your powers in this direction, when in the magnetic trance you have been made acquainted with the machinery you have to use, there is no danger, but every safety. And when you are thus informed and thus able to induce this superior condition upon yourself, you will not only have the Realm of the Occult open to you in its purely spiritual interpretation, but you will have the occult in its material aspect also; for you will come in contact with the finer physical forces of life, and be able to visit remote localities in mind and spirit, — be able to travel the broad world over, — and gain an immense amount of knowledge in regard to the occult side of terrestrial existence. The psychological phenomena will in their effects and character be somewhat similar in this degree to what they were in the first previously. But we warn you here, as we warned you in regard to the preceding points, that there is a danger to be considered. If a continual dependence upon another’s will and help are calculated to debilitate the body, so also is it true that the continued exercise of the subjective powers of your nature will likely be injurious and debilitate the outward powers of your nature. In other words, it is improper and unwise — most improper and most unwise — to sacrifice any department of your nature for the welfare and especial development of some other department. Therefore, beyond satisfying yourselves of the reality of your spiritual natures, gaining the practical demonstrations we have referred to, or utilizing this wonderful power for special and particular necessities, we counsel you not to abstract yourselves from the external life and its duties too frequently, not to neglect the requirements of the outer world, but at all times and under all circumstances remember that your first duty is to that plane of being upon which you at present reside.
Then we come to the spiritual form of the induction of the Trance. We have told you, by reason of the fact that man was a spiritual being, that, because he has these spiritual powers, he is of necessity related to the spiritual world and its inhabitants, and therefore there was a point of contact between the two conditions; now we have to deal with the point of contact referred to. The spiritual people are like yourselves; they have a rational existence, they possess like powers, they are surrounded with spiritual and psychic auras or magnetic spheres, as are yourselves. Each one and every one of you is surrounded by a magnetic, psychic, or spiritual sphere; and the character, color, and vibrations of that sphere are all visible to the observing spirit, who can see therein your own spiritual character and unfoldment. These are wonderful and important truths; and when you are inclined to deride your fellows, let the counter-reflection come to you that there are eyes looking down upon you that can read your very soul and know of a truth what your natures and dispositions really are.
The spiritual method of inducing the Trance is this; and perhaps to make it clear, we will give you an illustration within our own personal knowledge. Granting that we have all the conditions previously referred to in relation to health, haimony, and cleanliness of body, we have still to add another ingredient, which is cleanliness of mind. It is a most pernicious doctrine, that the mental and moral character of a spiritual subject has nothing at all to do with the phenomena presented through that subject. The very reverse is the case; for, when you enter into the higher consideration of psychical phenomena, everything depends upon the mental, moral, and spiritual cleanliness of the individual subject. Bear that truth reverently in your minds; for the counter-theory is degrading and debasing, — a most dangerous and damaging doctrine, which hinders all psychical progress or spiritual development.
The spirit mesmerists, being in the subjective world, have to commence their operations from the subjective plane and work outwards, as already stated. Hence then, we have to operate upon the counterparts of the physical body as presented in the spiritual body; and to reach these we commence operation upon the outer magnetic sphere, but direct its effects to the spiritual or under side of the human being. Now this may be accomplished physiologically, by directing the mind or thoughts of the the controlling power towards the affections; for it is by working through the affectional sphere we are able to come in contact with the physical condition of the affectional propensities. The connecting point, so to speak, between the animal and the higher side of human nature is the affections, and through the affections the outer physical organization is reached; and then the control being thus established in the lower or basilar brain, the effect can be continued into the superior and frontal brains.
Then, if the manipulation is purely and solely for a mechanical result, instead of turning the forces into the superior or intellectual brain, the flow of force is continued into the nervous department, and from the nervous outward into the muscular department; and thus, by having the sympathetic nervous system under control and influence we are gradually able to withdraw the outer forces and bring them inwardly, as in the case of the human mesmerist; and thus little by little we are able to suspend the active operations of external sensation and consciousness and induce the condition of sleep that you know as the spiritual or magnetic Trance.
The work begins internally in this case, progresses externally, and then reacts and turns inward again. Thus you will observe the induction of the Trance upon the human subject, by the inhabitants of the spiritual world, is a somewhat more complicated process than the process when accomplished by human agency. We have, to work from within outwardly, and then from the outward to the within.
The condition being thus induced, the direction of action entirely depends upon the results that are desired; but those results are limited by the possibilities of the organism that we have in control. When it is a case of personation it is a sympathetic, nervous, and mechanical control, — which being associated with a suitable and plastic organization, enables the operating spirit to correctly duplicate himself in features, in tone of voice, in character of speech, and in modes of action through the organism he is controlling.
The Trance as induced by natural, magnetic, and spiritual agencies having now been stated to you, let us point one or two conclusions, that will, we trust, show you its utility. The spiritually-induced Trance is the highest form of entrancement outside of the natural or self-induced Trance that you can have. It is possible, of course, as you know, by the use of various narcotics, to induce the condition of Trance, and by such abnormal means produce similar results to those already detailed. But here we wish again to caution you in the most impressive manner that we can, that all such agencies are radically bad and injurious; they are destructive of the tissues of the body, and they deteriorate the organism as a whole; they lower the moral and mental character and strength of the individual; and if you once become a prey to their use, and a subject of their influence, it will need, in a great majority of cases, a larger amount of will-power than the individual is generally capable of to break the chain you have thus placed around your neck; indeed you will have absolutely conjured up and imposed upon yourself a devil that will claim you as a victim, in all probability, so long as you remain upon the mortal plane.
The spiritually-induced Trance brings you individually into the closest relationships to spiritual personality and consciousness upon the inner plane of life, — the individual then becoming, to a very large extent, one with the spiritual peoples of the spirit world. When mediumship is better understood, and the character of the Trance more clearly comprehended, the individual who is controlled (as ‘the saying is) will be able to return to external life benefited and refreshed, and freighted with a vast variety of experience and information, — which information and experience, in a majority of cases, he now possesses; but not being trained in the character of the Trance, not having psychical education, he is unable to transmit it to the external side of memory, and so bring it into his active consciousness when he returns to the ordinary state.
One other suggestion, which will be more clearly illustrated in a further lecture: in regard to the induction of the Trance by the artificial methods used by the magicians and sorcerers of ancient and modern times, we only wish to suggest that there is a general psychical condition established by conforming to the requirements of the gatherings, where such phenomena occur, whereby a mental atmosphere is created, and a psychical condition established, sufficiently powerful in their effects upon sensitive natures to induce the Trance in their cases as the results of the conditions thus created.
Here, then, we have established the fact that the Trance can be induced by three different methods: by another for you, by yourself for yourself, by spirits from the spiritual world. We have found that the induction of this Trance in either case brings you into relationship with the spirit world, with the spirit people, and with the spiritual powers of yourselves. We have found that this corresponds to death, for death will do no more for you than the Trance, save only in this one respect: death results in your absolute departure from material ties, while the Trance but temporarily releases you from the conditions of material existence, and enables you to return to outward life again. The Trance may inform you, as a consequence of your experience while therein, that there is another realm of being, that there is another self within you, that there are other people beyond you, — those other people being those who one time lived amongst you, and who have passed through the valleys of the shadows of death into the Morning Land beyond. These evidences, these proofs, indeed, make the Trance an artificial and partial death; enable you consciously and understandingly to enter into the Spiritual world, and, as already stated, enable you also on the physical side of life to come into contact with the occult powers and forces of nature.
You are thus brought in contact with the subjective side of material existence as well as with the spiritual side of life that lies beyond the boundaries of the mortal state.
Thus have we clearly shown you that the Trance is the doorway of the occult, — to that occult which ordinary experience and education declare is entirely concealed, or even deny the existence of. The possibilities we have referred to, as the doorway through which you may pass to the occult, bear no relation either in strength or beauty to that deeper and sublimer doorway, Death itself. That gateway is gemmed with radiant beauties, twined with divinest flowers, shines with purest lustre; and when the faltering footsteps approach it, as the outward senses vanish from you, and the outward form, like a discarded mantle, falls upon the floor of mortal life, and you at last free and unencumbered enter in and pass that portal, you then will behold its glories fully disclosed to you; and in that spiritual awakening you shall realize all the bright pleasures and sweet experiences of your mortal life, when, perchance, sleeping the sleep of nature, or in that other sleep of the magnetic state, or of the spiritually-induced Trance, you have had views of the fairer country and mingled with its happy people, — all these shall come back to you in vivid reality, as you enter into that sublime and beautiful occult world : all shall then be made plain and clear; but even here, by the Trance this can be done for you to-day. We repeat that the Trance, either in its magnetic, natural, or spiritually-induced form, is God’s evidence and nature’s indication of the utility of death and the reality of immortal life.