VIII. Chemical Reaction
I have just shown you what is understood by animal magnetism: it is not a magnetic effect, but an odic effect, upon the human body, which is exercised by countless other odic subjects just as well as, and sometime^ much better than, by means of the magnet, which only, indeed, comes into play at all contingent iv, as an od-container, and not as a magnet proper. We consequently set aside the inappropriate word “animal magnetism” as something obsolete. It comes down from a time when the obscurest and most confused ideas were conceived about these matters, and can no longer be tolerated under present conditions of theoretic enlightenment on the subject. Before, however, I guide you further in this respect into this subject’s depths, I must, as a preliminary, make you still further acquainted with the range of od throughout Nature.
You know of od which, from causes unknown, flows ceaselessly and unchangeably from the poles of the crystal. You know it as it proceeds from a gradually weakening and vanishing source, the steel magnet. Finally you know it as it gushes from a transitory but living fount, the being endowed with organic life. I wish to guide you to it now as it momentarily flames forth, to lie speedily again extinguished, in virtue of a chemical process, that is to say of a chemical reaction, to be definitely distinguished here from affinity, which is the term designating chemical force.
While in the dark along with your sensitive, open a bottle of champagne. He will be pleasantly astonished to mark the apparition of a trail of fire following the flight of the cork from the neck of the bottle to the ceiling. The whole bottle will show up a brilliant white, as if made of luminous snow, and above it will play a cloud, waving lightly from side to side. As you yourself see nothing of all the fine pyrotechnic display, you know at once that it is an odic phenomenon. If you wish to understand its nature, experiment with me a little further.
Still in the dark, throw a spoonful of finely granulated sugar, or smoothly crushed table salt into a glass of water. Before you did so, your sensitive saw little, perhaps nothing, of either one or the other substance; but, as soon as you stir them round in the water together, he will see both water and glass become luminous on the instant. If he holds the glass in his left hand, he will feel it getting very cold. Simple solution (Lösung), therefore, with nothing further, is a developer of od: it is an odic source.
Put. an iron, copper, or zinc wire into a glass vessel containing diluted sulphuric acid. The whole wire wilt get into a glow, as it were, and a luminous apparition will emerge from its upper end, in form pretty well resembling the flame of an ordinary candle, only immeasurably weaker in illuminating power. At the summit this will resolve itself into smoke, with a great number of fine sparks, streaming vertically upwards. To the sensitive’s left hand the wire will feel much colder than it was before. Dissolution (Auflösung) therefore is also a source of od.
Make up a saline draught with effervescing powder, first of all, while you are in the dark, dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water; it will at once become luminous. Then dissolve the tartaric acid in another half-glassful of water; it too will become luminous, and more so than the other. Wait a few minutes till they have become dark again, and then pour the solutions together. In an instant the mixture will become brilliantly luminous, seem icy cold to the left hand, and a mighty cloud of white light will tower upwards over the glass. Chemical decomposition (Zerlegung) therefore is a vigorous developer of od in abundance.
Make a solution of sugar of lead, and pour in a solution of alum: on the instant the whole liquid will appear visible in the dark. Conduct the wires from the two poles of a voltaic battery into the water; as soon as decomposition sets in, your sensitive will see the water luminous and getting brighter and brighter, and feel the vessel containing it cold to his left hand.
All chemical activity consequently develops od; chemical reaction is an odic source which comes vigorously and suddenly into play, but which ceases on the spot so soon as the interaction of the affinities comes to an end.
If you take the stopper from a bottle of alcohol, or, better still, ether, bisulphide of carbon, or caustic ammonia, but best of all, pure eupion of 0.65 specific gravity, when in the dark and the air kept free from draughts, a sensitive person sees a column of light ascending vertically from the opening, with a velocity directly proportional to the tension of the substance. While this is going on, the liquid in’ the container becomes luminous. And not only substances so highly volatile as those named, but other bodies also, such as quicksilver, with it’s extremely low degree of evaporating power, emit a luminous vapour from the neck of the bottle. Solids such as camphor behave in the same way, and in particular iodine, which not only emits a brightly luminous vapour, but becomes luminous at the same tune itself. Evaporation and steaming, therefore, and consequently distillation, take place with a constant development of od.
All fermenting, sugar-laden liquids give a continuous display of luminosity; their bubbles mount to the surface like glowing pearls. Fermenting wine-must is one of these chemically active liquids that keep up a constant condition of luminosity. The bursting of your champagne into fire and flames you can now account for without any help from me.
Putrefaction also is a process of fermentation, and for this reason all putrefying matter becomes luminous. That, of course, is a fact that has been known to us all for a long time from the science of phosphorescence; but how closely connected it is with the odic light we have not yet discussed; in instances in which we non-sensitives cannot perceive a trace of phosphorescence in putrefying matter, such matter is shown up to sensitives in full luminosity.
And as we are now touching on the subject of corruption, we find ourselves not far removed from the idea of the departed. Follow me for a moment into the realms of death, and you may rely upon my word that I shall guide you speedily back again, all the wiser for an instructive glimpse at the doings of the night. You are aware, I fancy, that the souls of the departed linger about their graves for a time in flames of fire, till they have purged and atoned for the earthly dross clinging to them from this side of the tomb and have acquired eternal rest? You are giving me a doubtful look? But I am quite in earnest; such ghosts are really seen; you have the evidence of sufficient witnesses on the point.
Your nurse, too, is pretty sure to have told you that it is not given to everyone to see the ghosts or souls of the departed, but that only certain persons are privileged to be witnesses of the apparition. All this came home to me with full effect when I was working with some good sensitives on the subject of fish-putrescence, and wanted to sec whether I could not make the acquaintance of the dead in their flames of lire. Miss Leopoldina Reichel consented to be taken one very dark night to the cemetery of Grunzing, near Vienna, no great distance from my own house. And as a matter of fact she saw (November, 1844) fiery phenomena on several of the graves.
Taken on a later occasion to the huge burial-grounds of Vienna, she saw a number of the burial mounds beset by moving lights. They moved in uniformity to and fro, almost like rows of dancers, or soldiers at drill. Some were large, almost the size of men, and others small, creeping on the. ground like dwarfish kobolds. But they were only to be seen among the more recent grave-rows; the old burial-mounds had no fiery guard on duty. Miss Reichel went timidly and slowly up to them. As she approached, the human-like figures melted away; she recognized the fact that they were no more than luminous clouds, such as she had seen in my dark chamber a thousand times. She now had the courage to go up to them, but only encountered a shining vapour; she walked without fear right into one of them; it reached as high as her neck, and she was able to whisk it about with movements of her skirt. The dancing and drilling was explained by movements of the wind, which had played the same game with all the luminosities simultaneously.
Another time I commissioned four sensitive persons to go to the cemetery at Sievring. It was so dark that some of them fell down repeatedly on their way there, but when they got up to the graves, they all saw (he firry, ghost-like figures, more or less clearly according to their different grades of sensitive excitability. A luminous atmosphere, they said,.seemed to hang over the newly made graves. One ladv in the company drew figures with the point of her umbrella on one of the graves; the lines she drew remained there permanently, in a still stronger luminosity, over the scratches she made in the soil. Well, what was that? Or, what is that? It is nothing else than the miasma of putrefaction breathed forth from the graves and mounting upwards in the air above them, where the wind plays upon them, and human terror pictures their movements to and fro in the wind as the dances of living ghosts. It is carbonate of ammonium, phosphoretted hydrogen [PH3, P4, H2, P4, H2], and other products of putrefaction, known and unknown, which liberate odic light in the process of evaporation. When the putrefaction comes to an end, the lights are quenched—the dead have atoned.
But, dear reader, we ourselves have atonement to make—to our “old wives.” We must entreat their pardon for the injustice we have done them in the matter of their “tales.” Their fiery ghosts seen over graves exist in actuality and truth; such a reality can never be denied; we must give in to our “old wives” on the subject, for they are in the right. Yes, even down to the fact that the ghosts cannot be seen by everyone, but only by chosen mortals-—i.e. the sensitives; we must, to our confusion, admit even that point. It is not the “old wives’” fault that we have taken so long to understand what they assured us of thousands of years ago.