Palmistry seems too absurd to be discussed, but it is another half-way house. That the lines of Life, or Love, or what-not, are to be found on the palms of dead-born babies and of monkeys should be enough to stop the cult; but handbooks of palmistry seem to profit their publishers, and the palmists and clairvoyants flourish. The girl who buys a handbook and amuses her friends by reading their hands is comparatively harmless, though even she, becoming shrewd to note when she hits the mark, is likely to develop an unconscious receptivity and drift into fraud.
Crystal-gazing is a form of mediumism admirably fitted to give play both to trickery and dissociation. Used by the medium to ‘see as in a glass darkly’ and gain time for the help of his or her receptivity, it also allows of the induction of a self-hypnosis, the memories or fancies from the unconscious showing themselves as visions in the crystal.
Table-turning is easily first among the ways of giving rein to the unconscious. It has the advantage of allowing several people to play the same game at once, and further of allowing one Dissociate to work the miracle, whilst no one, not even the Dissociate himself, knows who is doing it. This is illustrated in _The New Revelation_, p. 19, where Sir Arthur says: ‘Some one, then, was moving the table; I thought it was they. They probably thought that I did it.’
_The Gate of Remembrance_ gives an illustration of tapping the unconscious and producing results that seem astonishing.
[Footnote 18: By F. B. Bond; Blackwell, Oxford.]
Two gentlemen, Mr. F. B. Bond and his friend J. A. I., had devoted years of study to the archæology of Glastonbury, exploring every available source of information in history or tradition and thinking hard and often about the Edgar Chapel, a part of the Abbey whose site was undetermined. After this preparatory storing up of memories and thoughts in the unconscious, they proceeded to tap them. I quote from page 18:–
‘What was clear enough was the need of somehow switching off the mere logical machinery of the brain which is for ever at work combining the more superficial and obvious things written on the pages of memory, and by its dominant activity excluding that which a more contemplative element in the mind would seek to revive from the half-obliterated traces below.’
Recognising an old friend, we are not surprised to find that automatic writing was the means employed to switch off the main stream of consciousness and produce a dissociation.
I find myself more in accord with the writer than reviews had led me to expect, for he disclaims ‘the action of discarnate intelligences from the outside upon the physical or nervous organisation of the sitters’ (p. 19).
The automatic writing is apparently controlled by Richard Bere, Johannes, and other influences which would be welcomed by spiritualists as ‘objective entities’; but the writer gives his opinion regarding Johannes (p. 50) as follows: ‘Whether we are dealing with a singularly vivid imaginative picture or with the personality of a man no one can really decide.’
Here I must differ and claim to have decided, for myself at least, that no personality other than that of the actual writer was concerned. The record of hysterical phenomena contains so many similar ‘personalities’ that I find no reason to call in the supernatural to account for this one. If a natural explanation is available we must not appeal to the supernatural; I am sure that F. B. B. is not unacquainted with Occam’s razor–miracles must not be unnecessarily multiplied.
Since the writer does not stress the supernatural, and allows me to credit to his unconscious the poetical imaginings produced in the script and the ‘veridical passages’ concerning the discoveries of the Edgar Chapel, I have no need to criticise them, especially as he is scrupulous in giving credit to the conscious predictions of others when they hit the mark.
The book is a record of an experiment–successful from the psychological point of view–carried out by two Dissociates who _knew what they were doing_; the dissociated streams were entirely out of their control, and although I must, from the psychological standpoint, class the experiment with the other dissociations described in this book, yet it is far from my purpose to class the experimenters with ‘Feda’ and others of her kind.
The earlier chapters of this book were written before I read _The Gate of Remembrance_, but whoever reads the conclusion in the latter book will find many opinions in agreement with those in my chapter on the unconscious.
Table-turning, water-divining, automatic writing, thought-reading, and the use of the pendulum are examples of a psychological automatism in which the agent is conscious neither of the muscular movements concerned nor, what is more important, of the mental processes producing them.
They can be cultivated to provide amazing results in tapping the memories of the unconscious, and if the agents remain in ignorance of their true mechanism a systematised delusion is built up and accepted as proof of the supernatural.