In this show we see a fine example of receptivity, like that of the hysteric who watches the doctor to learn what symptoms he expects to find; and just as the doctor may suggest absurd symptoms and find them present, so I was able to suggest falsehoods and have them reflected as revelations. But the believer would never do that; he is eager to fit every phrase to some fact within his knowledge, those that cannot be so fitted being forgotten as soon as the next lucky shot occurs, and in his eagerness he helps along the medium and provides him with more material.
Lest it may be thought that this experience is not typical, I will use the light given by it to examine some of the spirit news given in _Raymond_.
But we must first understand who are the _dramatis personæ_ of a séance. Since the time of the Witch of En-dor the expert medium has had a familiar spirit which speaks through him to this world and at the same time is in contact with the spirit world. The psychological explanation, if the medium is a true Dissociate and not a conscious fraud, is that the results of the dissociated stream are perceived by its owner as something of external origin. In the same way a lunatic whose dissociated stream produces voices will project them externally and believe them to be warnings or commands from an outside source; the table-turners, water-diviners, and watch-swingers follow the same reasoning, though their results are purely motor; and when ideas come up from the cut-off stream the individual cannot recognise them as mental products of his own, but feels impelled to credit them to another personality. I am reminded of a charming little girl whose one desire was to please her parents but who often gave way to the mischievous tendencies of a healthy child; whenever that happened she produced an imaginary ‘Naughty John’ who broke toys and cut off little girls’ hair. That is how the dissociated medium proceeds: unable to rate at their proper value the ideas which present themselves, he invents a familiar spirit who serves as their ostensible origin. The familiar thus called into being can draw upon the unconscious of the medium for the material to build up fantasies about another world. The spirits of the dead are part of these fantasies, so that we finally have the medium, the medium’s split-off personality, often with a name of its own, and the spirit that meets the demand of the moment.
The secondary personalities in Sir Oliver’s mediums are Feda and Moonstone, and in the dialogue Feda tells what Raymond is doing or saying, occasionally carrying on asides of her own. All this seems very complicated, but an explanation is necessary in order to understand what follows.
The medium (or, in this case, Feda) tells Sir Oliver Lodge (see pp. 250 _et seq._), ‘It’s a browny-coloured earth, not nice green, but sandy-coloured ground. As Feda looks at the land, the ground rises sharp at the back. Must have been made to rise, it sticks up in the air…. The raised up land is at the back of the tent, well set back. It doesn’t give an even sticking up, but it goes right along, with bits sticking up and bits lower down.’ Of this the scientific Sir Oliver says: ‘The description of the scenery showed plainly that it was Woolacombe sands that was meant.’ The reader will have no difficulty in fitting this description to any sands he likes, but the believer wants it to be Woolacombe, and Woolacombe it is.
Then, the medium having discovered that O. J. L.’s family had a tent by the water, O. J. L. asks: ‘Is it all one chamber in the tent?’ Answer: ‘He didn’t say that. He was going to say no, and then he stopped to think. No, I don’t think it was, it was divided off.’
Next a yacht appears out of the spirit world, and O. J. L. asks: ‘What about the yacht with sails, did it run on the water?’ The medium needs time to think, and the answer comes: ‘No’ (Feda (_sotto voce_): Oh, Raymond! don’t be silly!) he says, ‘No. (Feda: It must have done.) He is showing Feda like a thing on land–yes, a land thing. It’s standing up, like edgeways. A narrow thing. No, it isn’t water, but it has got nice white sails.’
O. J. L. ‘Did it go along?’
‘He says it _didn’t_! He’s laughing! When he said “didn’t” he shouted it.’ Feda should have said, ‘He laid particular emphasis on it.’
The first question is capable of two interpretations and the answer is ambiguous, though the ambiguity is further ‘evidence’ to Sir Oliver, because he remembers that a double-chamber tent had been turned into a single-chamber one.