Emma Hardinge Britten: From ‘Ghost Land’- Celestial Epiphanies
Chicago Edition, 1897
🌿Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is our continuation of the (re)discovery of Emma Hardinge Britten’s seminal works, this time-as promised-from ‘Ghost Land’, which is a thrilling biography of her teacher and friend, Chevalier Louis de B.🌿 ‘Ghost Land’ was edited ‘from her mentor’s diary, letters and other related manuscripts he left her‘. ‘Ghost Land’ details the Chevalier’s development as an occult adept, beginning as a magnetized subject for the Berlin Brotherhood, a secret society of occultists, then participating in magical work in England under the umbrella of the Orphic Circle and concluding with his ascension to occult mastery in the Ellora Caves of India. 🌿’Chevaler de B.’ may very well be of a fictious nature and could have been used as a shield-persona by Emma Hardinge Britten to protect herself and allowing her creative process to unfold more freely among the tight and frozen conventions of her time. We will start sharing key excerpts of this treasure trove, true mirror of the Victorian Occult revival, in which Emma Hardinge Britten, as a young gifted medium, was a key witness among those who composed the Mercurii (aka The London Astrological Society) and the Orphic circle, ‘where she met figures such as Dickens, Disraeli, Forster, Chauncy Hare Townshend, Lord Bulwer Lytton, the Earl of Stanhope, Eliphas Levi, Lieutenant Morrison (better known as “Zadkiel”), and the above mentioned Chevalier de B. They gathered around Marguerite, Lady Blessington and Alfred Count d’Orsay at Gore House, Westminster, London.’(Marc Demaret, E.H.B. Archives)🌿 Finally, ‘Ghost Land’ stands in the same famed category as Buwler Lytton’s ‘Zanoni’ or Henry Rider Haggard’s ‘She’, as master-pieces of nineteen century English occult literature, all skillfully crafted with intriguing and mesmerizing narratives that make it very hard some times to sort out truth from fiction! From page 140 to 161, being chapter X and XI🌿
Note: Louis, Chevalier de B. mourns the death
of his mentor, Professor von Marx.
In the Wilderness-The Journey
The dead Professor-
How to die of starvation-The starving poor-
The Sun-Sphere-Dying-Philosophy of Light & Heat.
‘THERE is an instrument whose manifold uses few of earth’s children really appreciate until they are compelled by necessity to use it. Should the gardener desire to open the earth for the reception of the precious seed, he takes this instrument to break apart the stubborn clods withal; when the plant he sows has grown to be a stem, he uses it to prune the branching shoots and trailing tendrils. The mineralogist applies it to sever the rough quartz from the pure gold or shape the precious gem. The reaper uses it to cut his sheaves; the housewife to slice her bread; the butcher to prepare his meat; the cook to carve it; the surgeon uses it to cut, to probe, to amputate, to cure; the assassin uses it only to kill and thus from a single blade of steel all of life’s uses for good or ill may be evolved; nay more; these multitudinous uses can not be performed without it, and though in one single instance it may kill in the hands of crime, the knife that prunes and trims, dissects and amputates, and ministers to every form of art and science, may surely be esteemed as very good, even if its name is ‘sorrow’. And yet it takes a life of many bitter trials to realize the manifold uses of this same keen knife, sorrow! I know this lesson now, though it has cost me many a year to learn it. I did not know it as I sat, a helpless, lonely being, more than a child in years, but far less than a man in self-reliance, beside the silent, rigid form of him that had been my idol, my very life, my more than self, the inspiration that had made me-anything! I had been in the presence of death many times before, and despite all the lessons of the Brothers, tending to render me callous to the sight, it had always affected me painfully, depressing me physically, and filling my mind with a sense of blank mystery which derived no satisfaction from the doctrines of annihilation insisted on by my philosophic associates; but when the subject of these revulsive emotions was my more than father, 0 Heaven! as I look back now on the dumb anguish of that terrible hour, the hour I passed in such awful stillness and mystery with the best beloved of my life, I pity myself, and could almost weep for the miserable being, then too deeply sunk in despair to weep for himself. But at length that dreadful hour of silent watching ended; with its close, two fixed ideas took possession of my mind: the first was that Professor von Marx was no more, – utterly, irretrievably dead and gone, gone forever; the next, that I, too, must die, for life without him would not be wretchedness merely, to me it seemed an impossibility.
Accustomed to act upon rapid flashes of thought, the future with all its bearings seemed mapped out before me the moment I roused myself to quit the chamber of death. My spiritualistic readers may question why I did not derive hope and comfort from the vision which had, in the semblance and tones of my beloved friend himself, apprised me of his decease. I answer, I could not at that time derive either hope or consolation from such a visitation. Facts make their impression on the mind. in proportion to its tendencies and receptivity for special ideas My mind had been bent into materialistic forms of belief. I had been constantly censured for indulging in any of the ‘vagaries’ of religious aspiration; taught to regard immortality as the attribute of the elements only, and the apparitions of the dead, like those of the living spirit, as magnetic emanations from the body, which might subsist for a brief period after death, but which could maintain no continuous being when once the body became broken up by the process of natural disintegration. Even the many flashes of wondrous light, irradiated as they were, too, with intelligence, which had appeared to me in the semblance of the beautiful Constance, I had been taught to regard as subjective images only, projections from my own fervid imagination, taking shape in the ‘astral light’, where the impressions of all things that ever had been, remained imperishably fixed. This was my creed at the time when I silently stole down the stairs leading from the death chamber, and passed out into the quiet street. It was deep night in London. A pale spring moon shone fit fully through the rifts and rents of a stormy sky. The air was chill and blighting, and my neglected attire was not calculated to protect me against the clamp, chill winds which moaned around me. I was all alone on earth, for though dim memories of friends and kindred flitted through my mind, they were all shut out by the one engrossing thought of him. A vague idea possessed me that some one on earth might be sorry for my loss and miss me; but I could not centralize this idea on any one in particular, save on him, and he was gone.
Professor von Marx had succeeded so far in filling up my whole being with himself that I perceived nothing real, nothing tangible in existence but his image; and now that he was no more, quenched, nothing,-what remained for me but to become, like himself, no more, quenched, nothing? With a rapidity truly astonishing to those who have not studied the philosophy of extraordinary mental states, I ran over the different methods by which I might arrive at the bitter end, but I rejected at once all that might incur, even for my worthless remains, publicity or curiosity. I would not be pitied or mouthed at, speculated over or talked about. In my utter desolation, I shrank even from the possibility of human sympathy or contact with pitying mortals when I was dead. I would hide away, die in secret, where none could find me. I finally determined I would starve myself to death, and thus gain time to see the world passing away and myself fading out of time before I was launched upon that ocean of oblivion, which had swallowed up my better self. One more thought of him I permitted my mind to indulge in ere I abandoned myself to my fate. Strange to say, that thought was not one of tenderness or regret: it was a sentiment of reproach, – reproach that one, to whose mighty will destiny itself seemed to bow clown, should have thus forsaken me; or rather I inwardly questioned why he did not take me with him,-he who so loved me, he who alone of all mankind could understand me! It was but a few short weeks ago that, in his half dreamy, half-satirical way, he had affected to predict for me a splendid destiny.
‘Young, rich, and handsome Louis!’ he said. ‘Youth, wealth, and beauty,-are not these the conquering graces before which the world bows down?’ Alas! alas! Did he even then contemplate casting me on the world, reliant on those adventitious aids to guide the stumbling feet that he had led so blindly? With what a strange mixture of anguish and bitterness did the memory of those cold, speculative words return to me now! Oh! did he know me then so little as to deem that any possessions could be aught to me when he was gone? Gone! Ay! that was the word that put all questioning to rest forever.
On I sped, -past the quiet rows of houses and through the silent streets; on through miles of dreary suburbs, where the ugliness of waste places and half-built roads became softened in the gloom of midnight; on through lanes and fields, – I scarce knew where, yet by an instinct that seemed to propel my eager steps, I pursued my way until I had left the city and all its hateful wilderness of slumbering life behind, and penetrated to the woods that skirted the north of London. I believe I was traversing one of those suburban districts known as Hampstead or Highgate. I had been driven there some months before, and was greatly attracted by the beauty and retirement of those woody heights, which at the time I write of, nearly thirty years ago, were almost in the country.
I had no idea of the distance I must traverse to reach that spot, or the direction in which I should go, yet I wished to be there; and ere the deep pall of night yielded to the gray dawn of morning, I had attained my goal, and sinking on the ground beneath the shadow of a deep and almost pathless wood, I felt as if I had arrived at my last earthly home. Being unaccustomed to steady walking for any great distance, the excessive fatigue I had undergone, no less than the stunned condition which succeeded to the anguish of the preceding hours, induced a deep sleep, from which I did not awaken till the sun was high in the heavens, so high indeed, that I perceived the day must be far advanced.
Unlike most persons who awake from the first sleep that succeeds some mighty sorrow to a gradual consciousness of the truth, I awoke at once to the mental spot from which I had sunk to sleep. There might have been but one intervening second between the great agony with which I lay, down and arose again, to take up the burden just where I had dropped it. Instinctively noting the features of the place where I had sought shelter, I perceived it was not the deep retirement I desired to find. The woods were thick ’tis true, but they resembled’ more a grove of trees whose pleasant shade might attract suburban loungers to my retreat than a lonely spot where a hunted hare might die in peace. That was no place for me; and quick as the thought occurred, the action followed on it. I started from the ground and determined to make my way yet farther on, – on to a safer solitude, one where no wandering foot of man might track me. I arose stiff, weak, and weary. At first I could scarcely drag my tired limbs from the spot where I had lain; but as I moved, I gained elasticity of limb, and strengthened by my will and feverish purpose, I walked on for several hours, walked on in fact, till night again overtook me, I passed through many pleasant places, country roads, and shady lanes. I left behind me handsome villas, nestling cottages, and homes where happy people seemed to dwell, where children’s voices and merry village tones resounded through the air. I passed them all, like a spectre as I was, shrinking from sight, sound, or companionship. The very echo of a human voice drove me away.
Some wretched tramps in fluttering rags, with lean and hungry faces, passed me on the road, and looked wistfully into my face. An old and white-haired man, with very threadbare clothes, was tottering on amongst them, and fixed on me a pleading glance. One human feeling still remained within my seared heart, promp-ting me to throw my purse amongst them. How glad they seemed! How I hastened on with wavering steps to escape from their noisy thanks! Did they know that the youth ‘so young, so rich, so handsome’, looked upon them, so old, so poor, so hideous, in their rags and poverty, and sighed to think he was not one amongst them? Undoubtedly they belonged to each other. There were fathers, sons, and brothers there perhaps; friends at the least they must be. But who and what was I? Father, brother, friend, – all, all were gone for me.
On, on I sped,-on till night again overtook me. On the banks of a deep and sullen river I reached a thick and extensive wood. Pushing my way through the tangled underwood, a few steps brought me to a deep and rugged dell, whose gloomy depths seemed as if they had never been traversed by human feet. The solitude and utter desolation of this wild haunt were all I sought.
Here I would stop and wait for the destroyer. An other long, long night, but not as before a restful one. Aching in every limb and racked with feverish thirst, I spent that weary night in pain unutterable. The morning came, and with it a new and strange sensation. The gnawing pangs of hunger now beset me. It was two days and nights since I had tasted a morsel of food, and this sensation of racking hunger was something new and urgent. I knew it was a part of the programme, a scene in the drama I had set myself to enact; hut I had not considered, for indeed I did not know, how pain ful it would prove. As the sensation deepened, my spirit seemed to pass out in the old familiar way and take note of many dis tant scenes, hut only of those where hungry people were.
I saw none but those who were hungry, because I suppose I was attracted to no others. I saw beggars, little children, old men and women; poor laborers who had nothing to eat, and would not have till a long day’s work was done. All were hungry, sad, and sullen. I saw those English work-houses where the wretched in mates were always hungry, besides a great many little children who looked eagerly and longingly into the shops where provisions were kept. Many a little, emaciated, pale creature I saw crying for bread; and besides these, my un-resting spirit seemed drawn as by a spell to the interior of wretched huts, up to roofless garrets, and down into noisome cellars, where miserable people lingered,-people of both sexes and all ages; but all were, like me, so very hungry! All of them had little or nothing to eat; and the multitudes I saw thus, seemed to me to be more in number than I had deemed of the whole human race. It was a ghastly yet wonderful sight this, and awful to know that in one vast, rich, and mighty, city were hungry wretches enough to constitute a nation.
Presently, I began to speculate upon the different effects which this one great pang produced on different people. Some of those whom I gazed upon were merely restless, then fretful, irritable, angry, sullen, savage: all these were stages in the great woe, but only the first stages. The next was a fierce, wild craving, and after that the natures of these hungry ones became wild and bn1tal, whilst all the nervous force of the system concentrated about the epigastrium, and then they were all hunger, just as I was all despair. Kindness, pity, shame, honesty, and virtue,-all were merged in the intolerable sense of urgent hunger; but this was an advanced stage of the pang, and was very terrible to witness.
The physiological conditions of these people too, were opened to my clairvoyant vision as I flitted amongst them, a phantom drawn to them by the irresistible ties of sympathy. Had I been at the ends of the earth, and there existed but one hungry creature at its centre, I should have been infallibly drawn to that one, so potential is the strength of spiritual sympathy. How strange, yet orderly and strictly natural, I found to be the routine which ensues in hungry systems! First there was the sense of demand, the want which a craving stomach makes known to the intelligence, for the sake of its own repair. Then came the mustering of the gastric and salivary juices, promoted by the thought of food. These secretions flowed in tidal currents to the salivary glands and gastric follicles, and if there was nothing to act upon, they began to dry up and become inflamed, and this it was that produced that gnawing sense of pain which attended the first stages of hunger, and communicated to the nerves an intense degree of irritability. In the next stage I perceived that the mucous membrane lining the digestive apparatus was in a measure consuming itself; also I saw how the entire force of the nervous system mustered to the point of suffering, and manifested sympathy with the epigastric regions.
Hour after hour I traced by involuntary but inevitable clairvoyance the entire progress of this ghastly pheno -menon, want, acting upon hundreds, ay, thousands or victims in and about the happy, well-fed, rich, and splendid Babylon of the world, -London. I noticed as a curious fact in the physiological results of starvation that whilst the tissues of the body generally, wasted, dried, and consumed themselves, the nerves never wasted, never failed; on the contrary, their power of sensation grew more and more acute with every moment’s bodily pang. Still more, I perceived that the ganglionic nerves which supplied the nutritive system attracted to its aid the force of the cerebra-spinal nerves, so that-mark it well!- there could be little or no other sensation than that which arose from the intolerable sense of hunger and thirst; and thus it was made plain to me why poor wretches under the influence of this sharp pang are rarely moral, kind, or gentle.
The nervous force which should be distributed through the intellectual and emotional regions being all absorbed by the fierce cravings of the digestive system, there can be no operation for the affections, the reason, or the morals. And yet again let me pause and remark upon another singular and noteworthy revealment of these clairvoyant wanderings. I saw the entire chain of connection between the brain and every fibre of the body; noted how conclusively motion and sensation, waste and repair, were all represented on the brain, and I marveled why no brain metre had as yet been invented, first as a means of detecting disease in remote parts of the system, and next as a gauge by which physical conditions could determine corresponding states of the mind. In the starving miserables from whom all the nervous force was abstracted from the brain to the stomach, there were no cranial nerves in operation, save the pneuma-gastric, and these acting upon the surrounding fibres in the cere bellum, necessarily prompted the appetite to revenge, destructiveness, acquisitiveness, and all the lower animal instincts.
Methought had I been destined to a continuous life, I should forevermore have felt the deepest sympathy for the poor and hungry. I pictured to myself how glad I should have been to have fed the ghastly multitudes I saw, and how unreasonable it was for society to expect gentleness, piety, humility, and kindness, where the gaunt demons of want and poverty held their sway.
Would that every legislator in the lands of civilization could have shared the perceptions of my wandering spirit in those dreary hours of suffering! Surely one great change would ensue in the laws of nations, making it a crime in legislation to permit any human being in the realm to go hungry, whilst for any citizen to die of starvation should be a blot sufficient to expunge the land where it occurred from the list of civilized nationalities. I think it must have been towards the sixth or seventh day of my terrible probation that the character of my wanderings changed. I had lost count of time, and being racked by intolerable thirst, I thought I might assuage that dreadful craving, and yet not prolong much my hours of torture. I made out then, to stagger to the edge of the river, and by dipping boughs of trees into the water, and laying my burning head upon them or applying them to my lips, I found the fearful sense of thirst in some measure allayed. It was so soothing to bathe my hands thus in the- cool river that I lay down very close to it, and but for fear some one might find and recognize the poor remains floating on its surface, gladly would I have made it my winding sheet, and thus have ended the awful struggle at once. Firm to my proposed plan, however, I contented myself with the luxury of the dripping boughs, and when I found sleep overtaking me, I crept back again to the shelter of the secluded dell. I believe there were several heavy storms of rain and hail, drenching the ground and adding racking pains to my fast stiffening limbs, but my resolve never failed, though physical tortures began to increase upon me.
A time came, however, when these terrible pangs became subdued, indeed at times I almost forgot them; besides, let me add, the sense of hunger I endured, unlike that which afflicted the poor, was voluntarily incurred. I bore my sufferings willingly, because I did so in the hope of release from still greater misery. The sentiments of rage, envy, indignation, and bitterness, which would add such additional anguish to the pains of hunger in the starving poor, were not present in my case; on the contrary, every pang that racked me was a response to my insatiate yearning to die and be at rest.
But I have said there came another change, and this it was. With the last minimum of my strength I had collected and surrounded myself with dripping boughs dragged through the cool river, and on these and my handkerchief, steeped in water and pressed to my parched lips, I laid myself down in the deepest recess of the wood I could find, to take my last, long .sleep. Then it was that a sweet and restful sense of dying stole over me. Bright and wonderful visions too, gleamed before my eyes. In every department of being I saw the spirits of nature. With involuntary lucidity I gazed down into the earth beneath me, and beheld whole countries peopled with grotesque forms, half spiritual and half material, resembling in some respects the animal and human kingdom, but still they were all rudimental, embryotic, and only half formed. I saw the soul-world of earths, clays, metals, minerals, and plants. In those realms, were beings of all shapes, sizes, and degrees of intelligence, yet all were living and sentient.
Everywhere gleamed the sparks of intelligence, the germs of soul, semi-spiritual natures, clothed . with semi-material bodies corresponding to the varieties of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, with all their infinite grades of being. Some of these spirits of nature were shining and beautiful, like the gems and metals; some coarse and unlovely, like the earths and roots; all were endowed with some special gift corresponding to the plane of being which they represented. In moistening my hands and face with the dripping boughs I seemed to be brought into rapport with the countless myriads of watery spirits, and through out all departments of elemental life, recognized a sort of caricature representation of the births, deaths, kindreds, families, associations, and wars that pervaded the human family.
Later on in time, though how long I never knew, I saw sweet and lovely lands filled with a sweet and lovely people mirrored in the shining air and nestling amidst the flowers and grasses; in fact the air became translucent to me. I saw immense realms filling up the spaces of our gross atmosphere, which were permeated with a wonderful number of countries, each formed of finer and more sublimated vapors, gases, aromal essences and ethers than the other. In some of these realms, the flowers, bloom, and essences of earth, became spiritual emanations, which crystallized into far rarer and more beautiful flowers, blossoms, and airs than any which earth could display.
The lower strata of these aerial regions were filled with very small, sometimes grotesque, but generally beautiful people. Some of them were no taller than the daisies and buttercups of the field, some were as high as the bushes, and some towered up to the tops of the forest trees. Most of them were fragrant, flower loving, merry beings, whose incessant habit of singing, dancing, leaping, and sporting in the sunbeams, filled me with joy. Many of these were short-lived races bubbling up with the ecstasy of a life which began and ended with the power of the sunbeam; others lived long vegetable lives of many centuries, haunting the woods, groves, and forests, and seemed especially interested in all that belonged to sylvan lives and pursuits. I again repeat that all these elementary tribes were divided off into different strata of atmosphere, or inhabited different parts of earth, filling every space from the centre to the circumference, where new planetary existences commenced. All were endowed with varying degrees of intelligence, special gifts, powers, and graduated tones of life and purpose, and all appeared to me first as a spark, spear, tongue, or globe of light, pale, ruddy, blue, violet, or of different shades of the primal hues, and all at length assumed the forms of pigmies, giants, plants, animals, or embryotic men, according to the particular grade they occupied in the scale of creation, or the tribe, species, and kingdom to which they corresponded.
I learned many, many things of the immensity and variety of being which seem either impossible to translate into human speech or which ‘are not lawful to utter’. I perceived that heat was life, flame its substance, and light its manifestation. I mused upon the contending theories of the philosophers concerning the sources of light and heat, and I know now, though perchance I might never be able to prove my knowledge, that the true source of light and heat were in the life and restless motion of the living beings that pervade the universe. The thought struck me, reflected from the teachings of conventionalism, that the sun must be the source of all the light and heat that permeates the solar system.
Directly the shadows of this opinion crossed my mind, my spirit was lifted up into the spheres of responsive truth, and lo! instantly the sun became revealed to me like an orb of molten gold. Oh, what a wonderful and glorious sight this world of ecstatic being presented to me! I beheld it full to repletion of swelling, glittering seas, rivers, fountains, lakes, and streams, all dancing in the radiance of many colored illuminations from the internal element of molten light. I beheld forests, groves, hills, vales, high mountains, and unfathomable caves and dells, all crystallized out of living, light, all imprisoning prismatic rays, not of one, but of countless shades of color.
The air, though translucent beyond our conception of the most attenuated ether, was still shimmering with the billions of glittering creatures that floated in it and disturbed its shining waves as they moved. Vast firmaments, spangled thick with suns and systems, swung over all, a crystal arch, in which immensity seemed to be out spread. From these glorious galaxies of worlds, count less meteors were being forever thrown off, sailing through space like chariots of fire.
The movements of the sunny worlds on high were plainly discerned too, and instead of a silent, moveless plain of stars, like that which overarched the earth, the wheeling, whirling stars were rushing on in their several orbits, shooting, darting, speeding round and round some vast and unknown centre, on a glorious scale of heavenly pyrotechnics which dazzled the straining eyes into wondering ecstasy.
In lower air were sailing cars and airy ships, carrying the rejoicing people of these sunny realms from point to point in space, whilst some were floating by their own resistless wills, upheld by a perfect knowledge of the laws of locomotion and atmosphere. Thus they swam, sank, ascended and sustained them selves on waves of air like happy birds, and oh, what a gracious race, what a nobly-created form of life they revealed to me! Tall and elastic, sunny-haired, blue eyed, with slender, majestic forms, vast, globe-like heads, and lovely, placid faces, all attired in robes of snowy white, azure, or sun hue. Their cities were full of trees, flowers, and spire-like towers, with glittering domes and minarets crowned with metallic ornaments. These cities were divided off by white, smooth roads and shady trees, and a wealth of flowers that made the senses ache to inhale their perfume. Vast palaces of art and science were there devoted to the study of the universe, not in part, but all.
Thus these children of the sun comprehended fully music, rhythm, speech, motion, chemical, astronomical, and geological laws. In short every form of art or science was known and taught in these vast and gorgeous cities. Labor was rest and exercise; work was knowledge put in practice, and food was the simple gathering-in of rare and precious plants and herbs and fruits that grew by nature where the beings of nature might demand them. Oh, what a glory it was to live upon this happy, happy orb,-to be a child of the gracious sun! I thought by only looking on this radiant world all sorrow vanished, and its very memory could never come again.
Before the vision closed I perceived that for millions of miles in space, beyond the surface of the sun world, were glittering zones and belts of many-colored radiance, forming a hazy rainbow, a photosphere of spark ling fire-mist visible to the eye of spirit alone, all crowded up with lands and worlds and spheres peopled with happy angel spirits of the sun. But ah me! I veil my presumptuous eyes as I dream again of these heavenly regions, and thoughts, thoughts like scintillations from the mind of Deity, fill up my throbbing soul as the memory of this wondrous world of heaven and heavenly bliss recurs to me now. The awful glory vanished, and when the gorgeous panorama faded, I knew where the light of our poor, dull planet’s day beams came from. I saw that the magnetic oceans flowing from this radiant sun sphere, combining with our earthly magnetism, created by mutual saturation that freight of heat and light, motion, and all imponderable force, the sum of which was life. I saw that the light and heat and life which permeates all being, is evolved by galvanic action generated between the photospheres of the parent mass, and circumferential satellites. Hence at those points which in the revolutions of time are turned from the central orb, no galvanic action is proceeding; the result is lack of action, lack of galvanic force, hence darkness, night. Life per-se is motion, motion is light and heat. Light and heat are magnetism; and this causes the action and reaction ensuing between the negative photosphere of the earth, and the positive photosphere of the sun. This simple scheme, so like a schoolboy’s lesson, pervades all the billions upon billions of marching and countermarching worlds, bodies in space, and all that in them is, in the boundless universe.
Recalled at length from these blinding, wildering visions, by my own near approach to the mystic gate where human life ended, and all beyond was veiled to me in shadow land, the weary, dying body put in its claim for sympathy and thought, and I was about to make a last instinctive effort to drag myself again to the river’s bank, when my attention was attracted by a strange, chiming sound, such an one as had often before warmed me of a spiritual presence. This time however, I fancied I heard a peal of very distant bells, such bells as ring out from some great city in majestic strains of joy and gladness; very distant, and subdued by dis tance to the sweetest tones, melting almost to echoes; still they rang in my dull and heavy ear. Then came a more distinct sound, like the rushing of mighty wings, and then, though my eyes were closed, I could see through their heavy lids, vast sheets of coruscating light, darting like gigantic fans over the entire quarter of the heavens which lay to the north.
At first I thought-if thought it could be called that resembled a faint light streaming over a pathway where the clouds of death were fast muste1·iI1g-that a great display of the splendid aurora borealis was illuminating the scene; but in a moment the light became collected from space around, and centered on a radiant figure that stood before me, in size gigantic, in form like that of a man, in substance a fleecy mass of fiery glory. ‘I am Metron, the Spirit of the North‘, this being said, speaking in the same chiming tone as the distant joy bells, ‘I am thy guardian spirit, chief of the Elementaries amongst whom thy soul hath roamed so long. Thou hast not dreamed nor fancied what thou hast seen. When all shall be revealed in the light of spiritual reality, matter shall prove to be the phantom, spirit the sub stance of creation. The visions of the body are dim, uncertain, changeful; those of the soul are real, although often broken and refracted through the prismatic hues of matter. Thou hast drunk at the fountain of the real, for the first time in thy life, alone and unaided by another’s will. A little while, another brief season of probation ended, and thou must live and walk, learn and know, by spirit teaching alone.’
‘I am he to whom the task of guiding thy spirit through the first stages of the universe has been iI1- trusted. Lean on me, beloved one; and now for a season, rest and sleep be thine l In the hours that shall be, when thou livest again and art thyself alone, call on me, thy guardian spirit, – and Metron, Spirit of the North, will ever answer.‘
Darkness, cold, death-damps, and deep, deep stillness succeeded. What do I last remember? Let me try and think. A voice, sweeter, softer, tenderer far than Metron’s, whispered in my ear, ‘Louis! my darling, suffering Louis! All will soon be over now, and then thy rest will come‘.
Did I speak? Did I answer· then? I know not. If I did the words must surely have been, ‘O Constance, let me die and be at rest forever!’ *
* Nearly the whole of the foregoing and succeeding chapters were rendered into English by the author himself, and although submitted to the Editor for correction, have been left untouched, the Editor finding it difficult to modify the author’s peculiar style of constructing sentences, without marring their intention,- The Editor of ‘Ghost land‘.
The Awakening to Real Life
In the Spheres-The Life transfer reversed-Metron, the Spirit of the North
-The Spirit of Louis longing for its home-The return to Earth.
OH, to awaken free from pain, from care and toil, and sordid strife for bread! To feel no grief, no cold or heat, no thirst or hunger! nevermore to weep or know what sorrow is; to look on all life past as an empty dream, whose gloomy shadows can nevermore return! No more bereavement, bitter separations, injustice, cruelty, or wrong! No more heart-ache, not even a sob or sigh!
To feel no sense of weight or bonds to earth; to float or wing on high in air; to speed like the lightning’s flash through space, or sail like a bird on the buoyant waves of ether! To see the dull, round globe far, far below, with its canopy of clouds and its creeping myri ads, insect-like, swarming upon its surface, all left be hind! To look up through happy tears and melting fire-mists to the spangled heavens, so dim to earth, so gorgeously bright to you! To feel kind hands about you, tender arms.enfolding you, and hear the tones of well-remembered friends, long-lost, almost forgotten, whispering sweet words of welcome in your ear; to gaze around and see a brilliant, happy circle of loved and loving friends, companions, kindred, beckoning you home, home, home forever!
No more parting, no more death or sadness! Oh, to be there I On, on through upper air! On, on, still higher, beyond the night and darkness, beyond the stars! Up higher yet! up through soft airs and sweet perfumes, up to the realms of never-setting sunlight, up above mountain heights, where glittering domes and towers and palaces are flashing in bright, prismatic, many-colored rays, and spanned by a thousand arching rainbows. To look down far, far beneath, and see white cities and·1ong, bright roads, embowered in spicy groves and waving trees, and outstretched, flowery plains, all full of busy, happy, lovely beings, radiant with joy and life.
Still to speed on, borne on in an airy car whose swift and rocking motion stirs the pulse, quickens the breath, and makes the wild heart leap for very gladness! On, till you reach the lovely, lovely land far higher than the highest thought can measure, far off in .space, forever removed from earth and night and gloom; the land where home is, and home the spot you most desire to reach; the place you long for, wait for, where all you love wait for you. Oh, glorious ride! Oh, life of a thousand years pressed into one sweet hour! And such was my awakening, such my flight through space, such the rest a tired spirit and broken heart encountered. Vain would be the effort to speak of things and scenes and modes of life for which earth has no language, mor,tal being no parallel. Some few points alone of this better land I may describe in human speech. Let me recall them. Music! Every motion there has its own sound, and when vast numbers of tones combine in harmony, – and all is harmony there, no discord, – that combination forms music. Hence music is speech and sound; but when it is designed to represent ideas, recite a history, tell a tale, or explain the marvels of creation, masses of symphonic music are performed; and as each tone is in itself an idea, every separate tone has a special meaning, and the whole combined form a language in which the highest glories of the universe can be revealed. There is no music in heaven without a real meaning; hence the listener or performer finds in music volumes of ideas.
As I listened to the sweet yet awful symphonies that greeted me when I paused, all glowing with life and joy and love at my radiant home, I heard the song of life with all its deep, inner meaning. I heard and under stood that poor, weak, trembling mortals are never out of the hands of creative wisdom. The tones of Nature sang of her eternal Author, Finisher; an all sustaining, all-protecting Providence; told of his goodness, wisdom, power; instructed us to trust and lean on him; spoke of the grand design in suffering; the beauty, symmetry, and order of creation, when the finite being begins to understand the infinite. Home! Can I convey by that precious word any realization, however faint, of the rest and peace of a heavenly home? I fear me not. Home was the place where my loved ones clustered, to which all their divergent wanderings tended back again. Home was the place where all my special tastes found expression, where I might stay, rest, grow, exchange glad greetings with all who sought or loved me,-a place to think in until I grew ready for another advance. I Every spirit has a home, a centre of love, rest, and ingathering of new powers and forces, a place where all one has loved, admired, most wished or longed for, takes shape, and. becomes embodied in the soul’s surroundings.
Sometimes the spirit gravitates, as mine did, to some lonely, church-like hall, a stately, silent place of inner rest and contemplation, and there the past resolved itself in shadowy pictures on the walls, and came and went like dissolving views, mapping out the minutest event or thought or word of my past earthly life, all which I found was fixed in the astral light, of which that temple was a Scripture page, forever. Oh, wonderful alchemy of spiritual existence! As I read again the panorama of my life, that ineffaceable record which every soul must read and read again, the past returned with its appropriate judgment. Many events which at their time of action I had felt regret for, even remorse, I now beheld as an inevitable sequence to other acts, stepping-stones, without which my life would have been incomplete. Deeds on which I had prided myself, now showed the littleness or petty egotism from which they sprang; sorrows which had wrung my spirit, appeared as blessings; and thoughts I had lamented once, I now perceived to have been effects inevitable. I saw and knew myself to be a chemical compound, made up of what I had been, or what had been done, said, and thought. All things appeared in judgment, and, stranger yet, all that I had, all that I possessed, enjoyed, or saw, nay, the very air I breathed, was tinctured by myself, and I saw, felt, heard, and enjoyed only, as my inner nature colored my surroundings. All things were real around me, but my capacity to know and use them sprang from my inner self. 0 Heaven, keep our earthly record fair, or woe betide us in the immutable procedures of the land of souls!
In another scene I may not fully speak of, I learned that our souls and all their faculties are magnetic tractors, drawing to themselves only such corresponding things and persons as assimilate with them. If the faculties are all engrossed by unselfish love, loving friends will answer. If the spirit reaches out for beauty, light, or special knowledge, the answer comes in kind, and surrounds the soul with beings and associations kindred with its yearnings. Base passions, vicious habits, and criminal propensities find no responding satisfaction in spirit land. They are all outgrowths of earth and earthy things, and cast the soul down to those lower depths that permeate the earth and chain it to the scene of its affections. In spirit land, ideas are all incarnate, and become realities and living things. Nothing is lost in the universe. All that ever has been, can be, shall be, are garnered up in the ever-present laboratories of being. Glorious privilege it is to roam through the endless corridors of time, and still to find an eternity beyond to grow in! The spheres! what may they mean? What mortal tongue or pen can fitly speak of them? Ideas are spheres. There are ten thousand million spheres, all rounded into complete worlds, and all are the habitations of those who cherish the special idea which rules, the sphere.
The spheres are not permanent, but the temporary homes of those who pass through them. They are the garners into which are gathered up the sheaves of earth, there to rest and gain experience, until they become distributed and amalgamated into the bread of eternal life. There are spheres of love, where tender natures cling to one another, until they are drawn by higher, broader aspirations, out into broader planes of thought. There are spheres of every shade of mental light, ideality, thought, and knowledge; spheres of special grades of goodness, intellect, and wisdom. In all and each is a special need of happiness, but also in all and each are prevailing im pulses to branch out farther, press on, and grow, so that every soul partaking of the special characteristics of every sphere in turn, may glean and gather in at last the good, of all, and thus become a perfected spirit.
WORLDS IN SPACE, yes, worlds, – thousands, mil lions of them; world within world, the finer perme ating the grosser, the grosser filling up the space of the still more dense, until at last I saw no finite lines, no end to the infinitely fine, the infinitely dense. I saw the concentered scheme of the whole solar sys tem with earth and its zones and belts of spirit spheres, countless in number, various in attribute. Myriads of rare and splendid beings sped through the spaces, piercing the grosser spheres invisibly to all but their own grade of being. Myriads of duller, grosser beings lived in these spheres, unconscious that they were permeated by radiant worlds, all thronged with glorious life, too fine for them to view. Each living creature was surrounded and enclosed by the atmosphere to which he belonged, and this restrained his vision to the special sphere in which he dwelt. Yet the finer realms of being could view at will the grosser; for now I found the secret of will: It is knowledge put into practice, and the knowledge of the highest is power and power is will. Thus is supreme will resident alone with the Unknowable, the Being who knows all. In these spheres that so lock and interlace with another, I saw that the lowest and nearest earth were dull, coarse, barren spheres, dreary and unlovely, where dark and unlovely beings wandered to and fro, seeking the rest and satisfaction earth alone could give them. No homes were there, no flowers, no bloom, no friendly gatherings, no songs or music; the hard, cold natures of the wretched dwellers gave off no light, no beauty, harmony, or love; yet all felt impelled, obliged to toil. Toil was the genius of the place, yet whatever labors were performed, became instrumental in digging up the spirit, and breaking the clods of hard and wicked natures.
Every occupation seemed to come perforce and must be done, yet all seemed destined to help re-make the nature, open up new ideas, new sources of thought, and impel the hapless laborers to aspire after better things and higher states. I saw the flitting lamps of spirit hearts, bright missionary angels, who filled these leaden spheres with their gracious influence, and yet though often felt, were unseen by the dull-eyed inhabitants, except as stars or gleams of shimmering radiance. Ah me! I fain would linger on the awful, grand, and wise economy of being, but the seal of mortal life is on my lips and on the minds of those I write for: who but the death-angel can break it? I hasten to the conclusion of my own brief pilgrimage. My noble father, my gentle, loving Constance, and hosts of the dead of earth, the angels of a better life, were around me.
At length, in the midst of my great egotism of joy, a fearful pang shot through my mind as a dim remembrence came of one who was not there. Stronger and stronger grew the thought, till again he filled my being, and I loathed myself because for a season I had forgotten him, – my more than friend and adopted father; but oh! where was he now, and why not with me? Where was that dearest one of’ all, for whom I had given my life? The pitying angels who thronged around me showed how their wish that I should rest and gain strength and life and light in the land of souls had intercepted thoughts of him before, but now the answer came, and all too soon.
The spheres I had seen were not the all of earth, though countless to me in number. Myriads there were within the earth itself, where lingered bound and captive, vicious spirits, the ignorant, dull, idle, and criminal, who had not done with earth and who must learn, perhaps for ages, all that belonged to their human duties, ere they could pass the threshold, and enter on the life of the upper spheres; and yet beyond again, below, beneath the earth, inhered an anti-state of mortal being, vast realms where dwelt the spirits of nature. Here were millions of ascending grades of life, ranging from the vital principle of growth in the rude stone, to the shining spirits of the fire and air, who only waited to pass through the last stages of progressive life and death ere they should gravitate to earth and inherit mortal bodies and immortal souls. Crowds of aspiring spirits filled these realms, who were not men, but who looked to man in inspirational dreams and trances as to the angel which led and called them upwards.
I had seen these elementary spheres through the films of earthly magnetism, and then they seemed bright, some resplendent as in the tales of fairy-land; but now, beholding them through the pure alchemy of spiritual truth, I saw that they were destitute of all the warmth and life and beauty that humanity confers. (It was in the midst of the sad and barren realms of elemental spirit-life that I saw at length my beloved and impris oned friend and adopted father. I knew it all at once and how it was. He had on earth sunk his bright intel- lect down to these elementals instead of drawing them up to him by his own aspirations for a higher life than man’s. He had descended below man to seek for causation instead of ascending above him; and now, oh hapless fate! he had gravitated to where he had chained his spirit.
He could not look through the radiant realms of upper air and see me, but he felt the streams of pitying love I poured out upon him, and stretched his weary arms towards my spirit home in tender sympathy. Spirit-life, glory, peace, and happiness ended for me then. There was no more rest for me in heaven so long as I knew there was work to do for him. A strange and striking picture of life and what I could do was now unrolled before me: I saw myself on earth again, once more in the midst of suffering and pain. I saw the soul of my dearest friend clinging around me like a tender parasite. For a brief period I saw my life and his commingle like two quivering flames or uniting rain-drops.
For a season the spirit of my father, thus drawn back to the earth by the magnetism of one so very, very near to him, almost himself in fact, would be released from the lower elemental spheres, and resuming its life functions through my mortal body would shake off the old errors, strike out into new paths of light, rise to its natural home in spirit-life, and, looking through the windows of my soul’s eyes perceive the glorious truth of spiritual immortality. My spirit should be the ladder on which his soul should rise from the elementary spheres through earth again to his home in the better land. This was to be my destiny and his. I saw it all and cried: ‘Speed, angels, speed me back to earth again! Haste! help me to release the imprisoned soul of him I love so dearly! ” But this was not all. I learned that I too had been robbed of my soul’s manhood; that I had not lived my own life, but that of my erring friend. His spirit had usurped the rights of mine; his will had superseded mine and left my soul a mere nonentity.
I must return to live again on earth then, -return for what seemed in earthly measure many long and weary years, but still I must undergo their pains and penalties, first for the sake of my dearest friend, and next for my own. My destiny was all laid out before me, – the rugged paths my bleeding feet would tread, my heart’s deep love, bereavement, desolation. The cold world’s slights and sneers, the keen tooth of ingratitude, the harsh sting of injustice, – all, all were mapped before me like a baleful battle-scene intruding on some lovely landscape whose peace and joy it ruined. I felt an unbidden tear steal down my cheek whilst I bowed my head and murmured, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done‘. I knew that will was good. I had seen the glory, goodness, wisdom of the scheme, the perfect order in disorder, the good which sorrow brings, the triumph over evil, wrong, and death.
I knew God lived and reigned. I felt his bounteous hand and all-sustaining presence upholding every creature he has made, though their blind eyes cannot perceive his tracks. I knew that I could trust his eternal wisdom, and when the darkness should thicken round me, the thunders peal, and my blinded eyes could discover naught but ruin, he would be strong to save. The angels bade me take for my life’s watchword, God understand, and I knew it was so. And now the fading light of the spiritual sun receded from my view; the joy-bells rang more faintly; the crashing symphonies of heavenly music resounded in dim echoes; gray mists, descending thicker, faster, deepened into night, and closed around me. The stars came out above my head, as descending still, I floated down through the murky atmosphere of earth, upborne in the arms of loving spirit friends, and cheered by their whispered promise, ‘Ever with thee!‘ At length I reached this cold, dull, lonely orb; arrived at last on earth.
They bore me to the solitary wood, the dreadful dell of mortal agony. Torches flitted through the darkness of the night, and at length, half concealed by trees and underbrush, I saw a rigid, pale, distorted form, a scarcely living creature, on which some kind and tender beings lavished human cares, and gentle eyes were raining tears of pity. At first I turned from the spectacle with loathing, but even then a voice, though far and distant, reached my ear, whose appealing tones cried, ‘Help, Louis! Louis, help!‘ It was his un-resting soul that pleaded. That cry broke forth from his imprisoned spirit and wailed through the sad night air in accents of wildest anguish. I paused no longer. I know not how, save that I acted by a mighty effort of resistless will, but in one instant I ceased to be a freed and rejoicing spirit. Minutes of dull forgetfulness succeeded, then keen pangs awoke me; the gates of life rolled back amidst my sobs and sighs, to let the spirit in, and gentle voices murmured, ‘He lives! Thank Heaven, he lives! and we are yet in time to save him’.
by Dr. Marc Haven