Kinds Of Vision

There are two kinds of vision, and each of these may be

perceived in two different ways. The two sorts of vision are

called the Direct Vision and the Symbolic Vision.

The first of these is an exact representation of some scene or

incident which has taken place in the past or will subsequently be

experienced in the future. It may have relation to the experience

of the seer, or of those who are present at t
e sitting, or yet may

have a general or public application.

The second order of vision is a representation by ideograph,

symbol or other indirect means, of events similar to those

conveyed by direct vision. The visions of Ezekiel and John of

Patmos are of the symbolic order, and although to the seers

themselves there probably was a very clear apperception of their

import, yet for others they require interpretation. In most cases it

will be found that the nature of the vision has relation to that

sphere of life and interest in which the seer or those for whom he

is serving are concerned. But this is not always the case, for there

are some peculiarly sensitive seers whose visions have a wider

range and a more general application. In the first case it would

seem that the impressions latent in the individual sphere of

subconscious activity are brought into evidence, and in the other

case the seer comes into relations with the world-soul or

earth-sphere, so that political, social and cosmic events

are brought out of latency into conscious perception. In most

cases it will be found that answers to questions are conveyed

by symbols, though this is not an invariable rule, as will

appear from the following remarks.

The vision, when it occurs, may be conveyed in one of two ways:

first, as a vivid picture affecting the focus and retina of the eye,

perfect in its outline and colouring, and giving the sense of

nearness or distance; secondly, as a vivid mental impression

accompanied by a hazy or dim formation in the "field" of vision.

In this latter form it becomes an apperception rather than a

perception, the mind receiving the impression of the vision to be

conveyed before it has had time to form and define itself in the


As already intimated, there appears to be a connection between

the temperamental peculiarities of the two classes of clairvoyants

and the kind of vision developed in them. Thus the direct

vision is more generally found in association with the passive

temperament. The direct vision is neither so regular nor so

constant as the symbolic vision owing to the peculiarities of the

negative or passive subject. When it does develop, however, the

direct vision is both lucid and actual, and has literal fulfilment in

the world of experience and fact. It is an actual representation of

what has actually happened or will have place in the future, or yet

may be presently happening at some place more or less distant.

The symbolic vision, on the other hand, is more generally

developed in the positive or active type of seer. It has the

advantage of being more regular and constant in its occurrence

than the direct vision, while at the same time being open to the

objection that it is frequently misinterpreted. Nothing shows this

better perhaps than the various interpretations which have been

made of the Apocalypse.

The positive temperament appears to throw off the mental images

as speedily as they are developed in the subconscious area, and

goes out to meet them in a mood of speculative enquiry. But the

passive temperament most frequently feels first and sees

afterwards, the visionary process being entirely devoid of

speculation and mental activity. In a word, the distinction

between them is that the one sees and thinks while the other feels

and sees.

The manner in which the visions appear to develop in the field

requires some description, and for reasons which will presently

appear it is essential that the earliest experiments should be made

in the light of a duly informed expectancy.

At first the crystal or mirror will appear to be overclouded by a

dull, smoky vapour which presently condenses into milky clouds

among which are seen innumerable little gold specks of light,

dancing in all directions, like gold-dust in a sunlit air. The focus

of the eye at this stage is inconstant, the pupil rapidly expanding

and contracting, while the crystal or mirror alternately disappears

in a haze and reappears again. Then suddenly the haze disappears

and the crystal looms up into full view, accompanied by a

complete lapse of the seer into full consciousness of his


This may be the only experience during the first few sittings. It

may be that of many. But if it occurs it is an entirely satisfactory

and hopeful symptom. For sooner or later, according to the

degree of susceptibility or responsiveness in the subject, there

will come a moment when the milky-looking clouds and dancing

starlights will suddenly vanish and a bright azure expanse like an

open summer sky will fill the field of vision. The brain will now

be felt to palpitate spasmodically, as if opening and closing again

in the coronal region; there will be a tightening of the scalp about

the base of brain, as if the floor of the cerebrum were contracting;

the seer will catch his breath with a spasmodic sigh and the first

vision will stand out clear and life-like against the azure screen of


Now the danger at this supreme moment is that the seer will be

surprised into full waking consciousness. During the process of

abstraction which precedes every vision or series of visions, the

consciousness of the seer is gradually but imperceptibly

withdrawn from physical surroundings. He forgets that he is

seated in a particular place or room, that he is in the company of

another or others. He forgets that he is gazing into a crystal or

mirror. He knows nothing, sees nothing, hears nothing, save that

which is being enacted before the senses of his soul. He loses

sight for the time even of his own identity and becomes as it were

merged in the vision itself.

When, therefore, his attention is suddenly arrested by an

apparition, startling in its reality and instantaneous production,

the reaction is likely to be both rapid and violent, so that the seer

is frequently carried back into full waking consciousness. When,

however, the mind is previously instructed and warned of this

stage of the process, a steady and self-possessed attitude is

ensured and a subconscious feeling of expectancy manifests at

the critical moment. I have known so many cases of people being

surprised out of clairvoyance and so to have lost what has often

been an isolated experience, that this treatise will be wholly

justified if by the inclusion of this warning the novice comes

successfully through his first experience of second sight.

We come now to the point where it becomes necessary to consider

other important reactions which the development of any psychic

sense involves. To some favoured few these supernormal faculties

appear to be given without any cost to themselves. Perhaps they

are direct evolutional products, possibly psychic inheritances;

but to such as have them no price is asked or penalty imposed.

Others there are who are impelled by their own evolutional

process to seek the development in themselves of these psychic

powers; and to these a word of warning seems necessary, so that

at the risk of appearing didactic I must essay the task. To some it

may seem unwelcome, to others redundant and supererogatory.

But we are dealing with a new stage in evolutional progress--the

waking up of new forces in ourselves and the prospective use of a

new set of faculties. It is of course open to anybody to

experiment blindly, and none will seek to deter them save those

who have some knowledge of the attendant dangers, and which

knowledge alone can help us to avoid. I should consider the man

more fool than hero who, in entire ignorance of mechanics and

aeronautics, stepped on board an aeroplane and started the

engines running. Even the most skilful in any new field of

experiment or research consciously faces certain but unknown

dangers. The victims of the aeroplane--brave pioneers of human

enterprise and endeavour that they were--fell by lack of

knowledge. By lack of knowledge also have the humane efforts

of many physicians been cut short at the outset of what might

have been a successful career. It was this very lack of knowledge

they knew to be the greatest of all dangers, and it was this they

had set out to remedy.

It is not less dangerous when we begin to pursue a course of

psychic development. The ordinary functions of the mind are

well within our knowledge and control. There is always the will

by which we may police the territory under our jurisdiction and

government. It is another matter when we seek to govern a

territory whose peculiar features and native laws and customs are

entirely unknown to us. It is obvious that here the will-power, if

directed at all, is as likely to be effectual for evil as for good.

The psychic faculties may indeed be opened up and the unknown

region explored, but at fatal cost, it may be, to all that constitutes

normal sanity and physical well-being; in which case one may

say with Hamlet it be better to "bear those ills we have, than fly

to others that we know not of."

Some of the conditions imposed upon those who, not being

naturally gifted in this direction, would wish to experiment in

clairvoyant development, may conveniently be stated and

examined in another chapter.