XII. Odic Discharge and Conduction—Approach
You are now acquainted with the most important sources of od, at least so far as I have succeeded in discovering them up to the present. Crystals, sun and moon, magnets, plants, beasts and men, chemical reaction, together with fermentation and decomposition, sound, friction with the movement of water, heat, electricity, and finally the whole world of matter in regularly determined degrees of strength, all these emit the remarkable phenomena perceptible to feeling and sight which we cannot assign to any of the known forces, but all of which present a single common point of view from which their connection may be recognized, and which must consequently be dealt with as an independent branch of physical science. Let us now consider the principle which must be regarded as their basis with regard to certain of its characteristics.
The first characteristic we come upon is that of its transference from one body to another, that is to say, its dischargeability. When a hot or electrified body is brought into contact with another, it makes the latter also hot or electrified; it is then said that the force in question permits of discharge. Od behaves in the same way. You have seen how a glass of water held to the pole of a crystal or magnet, or connected with a glass rod subjected to friction, or set in sun- or moonlight, or brought into the blue or red colours of the rainbow, took on an odic quality. And for the glass of water you may substitute any other body you like. Take a little bit of wood, a clew of yarn, your watch, a china plate, a small stone, a piece of sugar, whatever chances to come into your hand; let the sensitive hand first hold it and test it for a moment; then put it for a short time, a few minutes, say, before a pole that is giving out od, and finally give it back to the sensitive, into the same hand as before. He will find it altered; he will tell you that lie gets it back warmer or cooler.
And, mark you, he will find it altered in the very sense in which the odic source to which you exposed the object under examination would have affected him, and not in the contrary sense, as magnetism in such cases brings about in iron. What takes place, therefore, is nothing else than the fact that the od-emitting pole has brought the neutral object set within its sphere of action into the same odic condition as that with which it itself was overflowing. This is communication, discharge—to be carefully distinguished in the case from induction, the former being an odic form of activity, the latter a mode of influencing other bodies peculiar to magnets.
All those glasses of water, consequently, which you have seen exposed by me time and again to sources of od, were charged with od; they were odified; and the alteration which took place in them must be regarded as analogous with that which takes place in a glass of water when it is warmed or chilled. It is the same water; nothing tangible has entered into its composition; a dynamic change alone has been effected in it by the operation, but, remarkably enough, a change that exercises an effect at the same time upon the sense of the taster.
You can prove the same also with regard to illuminating power. Hang a copper wire with one end in the dark chamber and the other in the light of day outside, and bring up to the latter in turn a strong crystalline pole, a magnetic pole, one of your two hands, or keep rubbing it with a file, or put it into a glass in which you dissolve an effervescing powder in small successive quantities, or hold it over a charcoal fire, or bring it within the sphere of distribution of an electrical conductor—in all these cases your sensitive will see the wire become luminous in the darkness, and a small smoking flame dotted with sparks streaming from its extremity, so long as you keep up your action on the wire. The od discharged upon the wire will convert it to a higher power of illumination and, visibly to the sensitive eye, stream forth from its extremity, losing itself at last in the surrounding air.
A continual current of od into the atmosphere takes place in the same way from your finger-tips, from the tips of your toes, and from your whole body. This separation into the atmosphere is nothing else than a true discharge of od. One of the strongest discharges of this kind takes place from the breath of all living creatures. In the lungs, as is well known, a very vigorous chemical reaction takes place on the inspiration of air; as a consequence of this, od is set in motion according to rule, and discharges itself upon the air of respiration, which is thus breathed out, carrying a strong odic charge. Mrs. Cecily Bauer, ’the wife of a. hotel-keeper in Vienna, a very strong woman in robust health and at the same time strongly sensitive, told me with some anxiety that, whenever she woke up on a dark night and could distinguish nothing in the room, she could still always see her husband and her child in a sort of light as they lay asleep at her side, and that, whenever they breathed out, shining clouds of vapour came out of the mouths of both. That is the od-laden breath, which nearly all sensitives see coming out of their own mouths in the darkness like clouds of, tobacco-smoke.
Recur now in thought to my first letter, where I referred to the crowded car of an omnibus or railway-train, in which a sensitive is sitting, hemmed in among other people, a man on whom the reaction of all ’’ like " od has a disagreeable effect. Now the atmosphere in a narrow, closed-in space of that sort becomes completely charged, and overcharged, with od from the bodies of many people and the breath of so many lungs in quite a short space of time, and the sensitive cannot draw in a single breath without taking in at the same time air that is just as strongly charged as that which it is an unavoidable necessity to him to breathe out. And now imagine yourself in the position of this tortured man, when the opening of the carriage-window is refused him. He is there upon the rack, and no one recognizes the fact that he is suffering. From this time forth, however, it may be trusted that you will give him your sympathy and help.
In the same way it will now become clear to you why a high-sensitive cannot stay in a crowded company, and least of all in rooms that have not got a very high ceiling. The air soon becomes overcharged with od: he gets uneasy, hot, suffering more than he can endure, and if he cannot get away he loses his temper, and becomes irritable and inclined to be vexed at the smallest thing. And the longer he has to stay, the more he gets out of humour.
It is just the same with sensitives in bed. They charge their pillows, coverings, and mattresses with their own odic emanations. This soon becomes repugnant and disturbing to them. They twist and turn from this side to that the whole night through, get rid of their covering, and are only to some degree at rest when they are lying without anything over them at all.
A man of high-sensitivity is always a restless being, literally a mauvais coucheur, and must be so from his very nature. He is continually charging all his clothes with an od from his own body that is polarically like to that of the part they cover. The clothes and the parts of the body act and react upon each other with charges of “like” character, and produce the sickly warmth complained of. Thus the sensitive always feels worried when he keeps still, and only finds relief when in movement and getting rid of his od into the air. The consequence is that he can only bear very light clothing; everything he wears always seems too much for him. Though he change his position and his occupation continually, he is subject to an unceasing sense of oppression.
Od admits not only of discharge into all other bodies, but also of conduction. We have just encountered a proof of this in the rod held by the sensitive in the sunshine. The od from the sunshine, the heliod we may call it, passed along the rod into his hand. Now, however, make up a composite rod artificially; set one of metal alongside one of wood; attach a wax candle to the two, and last of all twine round a silken cord. Put this four-part rod by the end of the stick into the sensitive’s left hand and, after giving him about half a minute to grow accustomed to the feel of it, take hold of the silken cord with the fingers of your right hand. You will hear after a few seconds that the rod is getting cool; change the cord to your left hand and he will slew round to a sense of the sickly-soft sensation,
If you bring the silk cord into contact with the pole of a crystal, with a spectrum, with moonlight, with effervescing water, with sulfur, in every case you will conduct the effects proper to the source of od at work; they will all course along to the sensitive hand through the substances according to their varying degrees of conductivity. Make up conductors of sulfur, glass, silk, resin, India-rubber, or any idio-electrical substance you please, and they will all conduct od just as well as the metals do. For this dynamid there is no isolator. Therein lies the difficulty it sets in the path of all investigation.
In all the experiments described it is not even necessary that the rod which the sensitive holds by one end should be set in actual contact with the odic sources; mere approximation is quite enough. Put a glass rod in his hand, and bring your own finger-tips near the other end without touching it at any point. You will soon find out that you are exercising, if a somewhat weaker, at any rate a qualitatively quite similar, effect upon the rod and the hand of the sensitive. Set the pole of a crystal, a hare’s foot, a dose of bichromate of potassium dissolved in water, a bit of sulfur, a bottle of fermenting wine-must, merely in the close neighbourhood of such a rod, and the sensitive’s hand will experience the corresponding reaction forthwith. This is in every point in agreement with the luminous emanations from all these odic sources. Good conductors such as the metals, glass, and silk become luminous from every fairly strong discharge or conduction, and clothe themselves throughout their length with a luminous covering of vapour, whether worked upon by actual contact or only by approach.