Any attempt at a scientific explanation of the phenomenon of "crystal seering," to use an irregular but comprehensive term, would perhaps fall short of completeness, and certainly would depend largely upon the exercise of what Professor Huxley was wont to call "the scientific imagination." The reasons for this are obvious. We know comparatively little about atomic structure in relation to nervous organism. We are informed to a certain degree upon atomic ratios; we know that all bodies are regard
d by the physicist as a congeries of atoms, and that these atoms are "centres of force." Primarily, the atomic theory would refer all heterogeneous bodies to one homogeneous substance, from which substance, by means of a process loosely referred to as "differentiation," all the elements are derived. These elements are the result of atomic arrangement, and the atoms of each are known to have various vibrations, the extent of which is called the "mean free path of vibration." The indestructibility of matter, the fact that all nature is convertible, and the absolute association of matter and force, lead to the conclusion that since every change in matter implies a change of force, matter must be ever living and active, and primarily of a spiritual nature. The great Swedenborg, no less a scientist than a spiritual seer, laid down his doctrine of "Correspondences" upon the primary concept of the spiritual origin of all force and matter. Matter, he argued, was the ultimate expression of Spirit, as Form was that of Force. Spirit was to Force what Matter was to Form—our ideas of Matter and Form being closely related. Hence, for every Spiritual Force there is a corresponding Material Form, and the material or natural world corresponds at all points with the world of spirit, without being identical. This, in brief, is the conclusion to which the "scientific imagination" of the present day, extending as it does from the known into the unknown, is slowly but surely leading up.
Taking as our postulate the scientific statement of the atomic structure of bodies, atomic vibration and molecular arrangement, we turn to consider the action exerted by such bodies upon the nervous organism of man.
The function of the brain—which must be regarded as the bulbous root of a nervous plant whose branches grow downwards—is twofold; to affect, and to be affected. In its active or positive condition it affects the whole of the vital and muscular processes in the man, finding expression in vital action. In its passive or negative state it is affected by impressions coming to it in different ways through the sense-organs, resulting in nervous and mental action. It is this latter phase of brain-function with which we are immediately concerned.
The range of our sense-perception puts us momentarily and continually in relation with the material world, or rather with a certain portion of it. We say a certain portion because we know from scientific experience that the scale or gamut of sense-perception is limited, both as to its extent and as to its quality. Many insects, birds, and quadrupeds have keener perceptions in some respects than man. The photographic plate can register impressions which are beyond the perception of our highest sense of sight. The Röntgen rays have put us into relations with a new order of impression—records quite beyond the range of our normal vision. The animalcule and microbic life, itself microscopic, has yet its own order of sense-organs related to a world of vitality beyond our ken. These, and a host of other observations, serve to show that our normal perceptions are extremely limited, and, further, that nature does not cease to exist where we cease to perceive her.
The relation of our sense-organs to the several degrees of matter, to solids, fluids, gases, atmospheric and etheric motions, vary in different individuals to such a wide extent that the average wool-sorter leaves many an artist behind in his perception of colour-shades. The same odour is perceptible by one person and unrecognisable by another. In the gradation of sound, too, the same differences of perception will be commonly noticed. But quite apart from the scale or range of perception, the quality of a sense-impression is found to vary with different persons. By this we mean that the same body will affect different persons in dissimilar manner. Hence arises the variety of "tastes" in regard to forms, colours, flavours, scents, sounds, fabrics, etc., what is agreeable to one being highly objectionable to another. The experience is to common to need illustration; but the conclusion to which we are led is that, in relation to the nervous system of man, every material body has a variable effect. And this clears the ground for a statement of our views in regard to the Crystal and its effects upon the seer.
The Crystal itself is a clear pellucid piece of quartz or beryl, sometimes oval in shape, but more generally spheroidal. It is accredited by Reichenbach and other researchers with highly magnetic qualities capable of producing in a suitable subject a state analogous to the ordinary waking trance of the hypnotists. It is believed that all bodies convey, or are the vehicles of, a certain universal magnetic property, variously called Od, Odyle, etc., which is regarded as an inert and passive substance underlying the more active forces familiar to us in kinetic, calorific, and electrical phenomena. In this respect it bears a position analogous to the Argon of the atmosphere. It is capable of taking up, sympathetically, the vibrations of those bodies or elements to which it is temporarily related. But of itself it has no activity, although in its still, well-like, and calm depths it holds the potentiality of all magnetic forces. This Odyle, then, is particularly potent in the quartz or beryl, when brought into activity by the intention of the seer. It produces and retains more readily in that form the various images communicated to it from the soul of man. And the soul, in this connection, must be regarded as the repository of all that complex mass of emotions, thoughts, impressions, perceptions, feelings, etc., included in the inner life of man; for the soul of man is not the less a scientific fact because there are those who bandy words concerning its origin and nature. Reichenbach has shown by a series of experiments upon sensitive and hypnotised subjects that metals and other substances produce very marked effects in contact with the human body. Those experiments showed, too, that the same substance affected different patients in diverse manner. The hypnotic experiments of Dr. Charcot, the well-known French biologist, also demonstrate the rapport existing between the sensitive patient and foreign bodies when in proximity or contact; as for example, when a bottle containing a poison was taken at random from among a number of others of exactly similar appearance, and applied to the back of the patient's neck, the hypnotised subject would once develop all the symptoms of poisoning by arsenic, strychnine, prussic acid, etc., it being afterwards ascertained that the bottle thus applied actually contained the toxine whose effects had been portrayed by the subject.
It need not, then, be a matter of surprise to learn that the Crystal exerts a very definite and sensible effect upon the nervous system of a certain order of subjects. It does not affect all alike, nor act in exactly the same way on those whom it does so affect. Where its action is more or less rapid and remarkable, the quartz or beryl Crystal may be taken as the most effective medium for producing the vision. In other cases the concave mirror, either of polished copper or black japan, will be found serviceable for inducing the clairvoyant state. In some other cases, again, a bowl of water is sufficient. The ecstatic vision was first induced in the case of Jacob Boehme by the sun's rays falling upon a bowl of water which caught and dazzled his eyes while he was engaged in the humble task of cobbling a pair of shoes. As a consequence of this exaltation of the sense of sight we have those remarkable works, "The Aurora," "The Four Complexions," "The Signatura Rerum," and many others, together with a volume of letters and commentaries which, in addition to being of a highly spiritual nature, must also be regarded as scholarly when referred to their authorship.
In cases like the above it may be said that the clairvoyant faculty is constitutional and already fully developed, waiting only the circumstances which shall serve to bring it into active play, Emanuel Swedenborg, if we remember rightly, was 54 years of age before he awoke to the consciousness of his spiritual vision.
The medium employed for inducing the clairvoyant state cannot be definitely prescribed. It must remain a matter of experiment for each investigator. This, however, may be said: Every person whose life is not wholly sunk in selfish and material pleasures, but in whom the aspiration to a nobler and purer life is a hunger the world cannot satisfy, has within himself the power to see and know that which he seeks behind the veil of his earthly senses. Nature has never produced a desire she could not satisfy. There is no hope, however vague, that the soul cannot define, and no aspiration, however high, that the wings of the spirit cannot reach. Therefore be patient and strive.
That there are some in whom the psychic faculties are more prone to activity than in others is certain, as also some in whom these powers are native, by spiritual or hereditary succession; all of which may be determined from their genitures by the astrological art. In others, the determination of the natural powers takes a more practical and mundane tendency, making them more successful in the affairs of daily life than in aught of a spiritual nature St. Paul has spoken of a diversity of gifts. "One star differeth from another in glory," he says, in very truth. This distribution of natural gifts proceeds from the celestial world, and is so ordered that each person born on this earth may fulfil his part in the economy of life. And because the spiritual needs of mankind are of primary importance, there are those born in whom the power of spiritual interpretation is the dominant faculty, such persons being the natural channels of intercourse between the superior and inferior worlds. These are to mankind what a certain order of microbic life is to the body of man—organic interpreters, translating the elements of food into blood, nerve, fibre, tissue, etc., agreeably to the laws of their being.
For those who would aspire to the gift of pure vision, and in whom the faculty is striving for expression, the following pages are written. To others we would say, Be content. All birds are not eagles. The nightingale has a song, the humming-bird a plumage which the eagle will never possess. The nightingale may sing to the stars, humming-bird to the flowers, but the eagle, whose tireless eyes gaze into the heart of day, is uncompanioned in its lofty loneliness in the barren mountain-tops.