PROJECTION OF THE ETHERIC BODY
BEFORE we can leave the subject of attack by incarnate human beings, we must consider the subject of etheric projection. In this case not only is the mind at work, but also something which is pretty nearly physical; sufficiently physical, at any rate, to leave bruises on the flesh of the victim, throw the furniture about, or at least make a considerable amount of noise.
Where such manifestations take place, it is obvious that we are dealing with something more substantial than the mind, for although mind can influence mind, and through it the body to an extent to which in the present state of our knowledge it is difficult to set limits, mind cannot manipulate matter directly: that is to say, you cannot smash a window by means of a thought. There must be some physical vehicle that can be manipulated by the mind if effects are to be wrought on the physical plane. The living body is such an instrument; it is manipulated by the mind every time a voluntary movement takes place, and the operations of spiritual healing are simply an extension of this principle to the involuntary muscles and physiological processes not ordinarily directed by the conscious mind. Occultists maintain that mind affects body by means of the etheric double, as it is called, the "mortal mind" of the Christian Scientists. We may not unreasonably conclude that when physical action is produced at a distance by occult means, it is done by employing this etheric double.
The etheric double is primarily a body of magnetic stresses in the framework of whose meshes every cell and fibre of the physical body is held as in a rack. But intermediate between this and the dense physical body as we know it, there is what may be called the raw material out of which dense matter is condensed. This was called by the ancients, Hyle, or First Matter, and by the moderns, Ectoplasm. It is this projected ectoplasm which produces the phenomena whenever physical manifestations are in question. It may be projected as long rods, which will operate up to a distance of a dozen feet or so; or it may be projected as a nebulous cloud, connected with the medium by a tenuous thread. This cloud can be organised into distinct forms, having the semblance of life and acting as vehicles for conscious wills. There is a great deal of information available on this subject in the literature of spiritualism, to which reference may be found in the bibliography at the end of this book.
The adept who was head of the occult college to which I have previously referred, and from whom I received my first training in occultism, was able to perform this operation, and I have many times seen him do it. He would go into deep trance, after a few convulsive movements, somewhat like a slow tetany, and would then lose about two-thirds of his weight. I have many times helped to lift him, or even lifted him single-handed, when he was in this state, and he weighed no more than a child. A man can fake many things, but he cannot fake his weight. I have lifted him single handed from the floor on to a sofa when in this state. It is quite true that, being rigid as a board, he was much easier to handle than the ordinary limp, unconscious human form; but there is a certain ratio between the weight of a grown man and the strength of a woman of average physique.
What became of the missing weight on these occasions I found out one night. He had been ill, with some delirium, and the lion's share of the nursing, especially the night work, had fallen to my lot. There came a time, however, when we decided that he was so far recovered that it was unnecessary for anyone to sit up with him, so to bed we all went, for the first time for several days. I shared a room with another member of the community. It was a comparatively small cottage we were in, and our two beds were close together, side by side, right under the uncurtained open window. It was the time of the full moon, and I remember that I had no need to light a candle in order to see to undress.
I fell asleep at once, for I was very tired. I could not have been asleep very long, however, when I was awakened by the sensation of a weight upon my feet. It was as if a good-sized dog, say, a collie, had jumped up and lain down on the bed. The room was flooded with moonlight, and as bright as day, and I clearly saw, lying apparently asleep across the foot of my bed, the man whom we had left safely tucked up for the night in the room below. It was a somewhat embarrassing situation, and I lay still, taking thought before I did any thing. I was wide enough awake by now, as may well be imagined. I concluded that Z., as I will call this man, had either had a return of the delirium, or was sleep-walking. In any case I was very anxious to get him safely back to bed again without a fuss or a scene. My companion had a bad heart, and I did not want her to get a shock; neither did I want him to get a shock in his weak state. I was afraid that if I waked my room-mate first, she might scream, and wake Z. up with a start, with disastrous consequences. I decided therefore to wake him gently, as being the worse case of the two, and let her take her chance. Having cogitated these matters for several moments at least, I finally took action. I sat up in bed and leant quietly forward with the intention of touching him gently on the shoulder and so arousing him. In order to lean forward, I had to withdraw my feet from under him, for they were pinned by his weight, which until now had rested upon them, for I had been careful not to stir while thinking out my plan of campaign.
Z. was plainly visible in the moonlight, clad apparently in his dressing-gown, or so I took the muffling folds of material to be that swathed him about. Both his face and wrappings appeared grey and colourless in the moonlight, but there was no question in my mind as to his solidarity, for not only could I see him, but I could feel his weight resting upon my feet. But the moment I moved, he vanished, and I was left staring in amazement at the smooth fold of the blankets over the end of the little camp-bed on which I lay. It was then, and then only, that I realised he had appeared all grey and colourless, more like a shaded pencil sketch than a human being of flesh and blood.
I asked him about this incident in the morning, but he said he had no recollection of it; he had been dreaming the uneasy, broken dreams of a sick man, but could not recall them.
This, of course, was in no way an occult attack, but rather the visit of a friend, who had come to lean upon me in the course of his illness, and instinctively came to me for consolation when out of his body in trance at a time when his weakened condition prevented him from retaining his normal control over his psychic activities. Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate what could be done if the etheric form that visited me had been energised by a malignant will. It may explain the nature of the sense of weight that oppresses the victims of a certain type of nightmare.
I have heard of more than one case wherein bruises resembling finger-marks were found on the throats of people who had been victims of an astral attack. I have never actually seen such bruises myself, but I have been told of them by people who have either had them themselves, or seen them. It is a well-known fact that if an occultist, functioning out of the body, meets with unpleasantness on the astral plane, or if his subtle body is seen, and struck or shot at, the physical body will show the marks. I myself have many times found curiously patterned bruises on my body after an astral skirmish. The mechanism of the production of such marks must, I think, be of the same nature as that which produces the stigmata of saints and the curious physical marks and swellings sometimes seen in hysterics - the mind, powerfully stirred, affects the etheric double, and the etheric double acts upon the physical molecules held in its meshes. I dare to prophesy the next advances in medicine will be bound up with the knowledge of the nature and function of the etheric double.
The next type of psychic attack which we must consider is that conducted by means of artificial elementals. These are distinguished from thought-forms by the fact that, once formulated by the creative mind of the magician, they possess a distinct and independent life of their own, though strictly conditioned as to nature by the concept of their creator. The life of these creatures is akin to that of an electric battery, it slowly leaks out by means of radiation, and unless recharged periodically, will finally weaken and die out. The whole question of the making, charging, recharging, or destruction of these artificial elementals is an important one in practical occultism.
The artificial elemental is constructed by forming a clear- cut image in the imagination of the creature it is intended to create, ensouling it with something of the corresponding aspect of one's own being, and then invoking into it the appropriate natural force. This method can be used for good as well as evil, and "guardian angels" are formed in this way. It is said that dying women, anxious concerning the welfare of their children, frequently form them unconsciously.
I myself once had an exceedingly nasty experience in which I formulated a were-wolf accidentally. Unpleasant as the incident was, I think it may be just as well to give it publicity, for it shows what may happen when an insufficiently disciplined and purified nature is handling occult forces.
I had received serious injury from someone who, at considerable cost to myself, I had disinterestedly helped, and I was sorely tempted to retaliate. Lying on my bed resting one afternoon, I was brooding over my resentment, and while so brooding, drifted towards the borders of sleep. There came to my mind the thought of casting off all restraints and going berserk. The ancient Nordic myths rose before me, and I thought of Fenris, the Wolf-horror of the North. Immediately I felt a curious drawing-out sensation from my solar plexus, and there materialised beside me on the bed a large wolf. It was a well-materialised ectoplasmic form. Like Z., it was grey and colourless, and like him, it had weight. I could distinctly feel its back pressing against me as it lay beside me on the bed as a large dog might.
I knew nothing about the art of making elementals at that time, but had accidentally stumbled upon the right method - the brooding highly charged with emotion, the invocation of the appropriate natural force, and the condition between sleeping and waking in which the etheric double readily extrudes.
I was horrified at what I had done, and knew I was in a tight corner and that everything depended upon my keeping my head. I had had enough experience of practical occultism to know that the thing I had called into visible manifestation could be controlled by my will provided I did not panic; but that if I lost my nerve and it got the upper hand, I had a Frankenstein monster to cope with.
I stirred slightly, and the creature evidently objected to being
disturbed, for it turned its long snout towards me over its shoulder, and snarled,
showing its teeth. I had now "got the wind up" properly; but I knew that
everything depended on my getting the upper hand and keeping it, and that the
best thing I could do was to fight it out now, because the longer the Thing
remained in existence, the stronger it would get, and the more difficult to
disintegrate. So I drove my elbow into its hairy ectoplasmic ribs and said to
it out loud:
"If you can't behave yourself, you will have to go on the floor," and pushed it off the bed.
Down it went, meek as a lamb, and changed from wolf to dog, to my great relief. Then the northern corner of the room appeared to fade away, and the creature went out through the gap.
I was far from happy, however, for I had a feeling that this was not the end of it, and my feeling was confirmed when next morning another member of my household reported that her sleep had been disturbed by dreams of wolves, and she had awakened in the night to see the eyes of a wild animal shining in the darkness in the corner of her room.
Now thoroughly alarmed, I went off to seek advice from one whom I have always looked upon as my teacher, and I was told that I had made this Thing out of my own substance by revengeful thoughts, and that it was really a part of myself extruded, and that I must at all costs recall it and reabsorb it into myself, at the same time forgoing my desire to "settle accounts" with the person who had injured me. Curiously enough, just at this time there came an opportunity most effectually to "settle" with my antagonist.
Fortunately for all concerned, I had enough sense left to see that I was at the dividing of the ways, and if I were not careful would take the first step on to the Left-hand Path. If I availed myself of the opportunity to give practical expression to my resentment, the wolf-form would be born into an independent existence, and there would be the devil to pay, literally as well as metaphorically. I received the distinct impression, and impressions are important things in psychic matters, for they often represent subconscious knowledge and experience, that once the wolf-impulse had found expression in action, the wolf-form would sever the psychic navel-cord that connected it with my solar plexus, and it would be no longer possible for me to absorb it.
The prospect was not a pleasant one. I had to forgo my dearly-loved revenge and allow harm to be done to me without defending myself, and I also had to summon and absorb a wolf-form which, to my psychic consciousness at any rate, looked unpleasantly tangible. Nor was it a situation in which I could either ask for assistance nor expect much sympathy. However, it had to be faced, and I knew that with every hour of the Thing's existence it would be harder to deal with, so I made the resolution to let the opportunity for revenge slip through my fingers, and at first dusk summoned the Creature. It came in through the northern corner of the room again (subsequently I learnt that the north was considered among the ancients as the evil quarter), and presented itself upon the hearthrug in quite a mild and domesticated mood. I obtained an excellent materialisation in the half-light, and could have sworn that a big Alsatian was standing there looking at me. It was tangible, even to the dog-like odour.
From it to me stretched a shadowy line of ectoplasm, one end was attached to my solar plexus, and the other disappeared in the shaggy fur of its belly, but I could not see the actual point of attachment. I began by an effort of the will and imagination to draw the life out of it along this silver cord, as if sucking lemonade up a straw. The wolf- form began to fade, the cord thickened and grew more substantial. A violent emotional upheaval started in myself; I felt the most furious impulses to go berserk and rend and tear anything and anybody that came to hand, like the Malay running amok. I conquered this impulse with an effort, and the upheaval subsided. The wolf-form had now faded into a shapeless grey mist. This too absorbed along the silver cord. The tension relaxed and I found myself bathed in perspiration. That, as far as I know, was the end of the incident.
I had had a sharp lesson, and a highly instructive one. It may not be convincing to other people, owing to the lack of corroborative evidence, but it was exceedingly evidential to me, and I put it on record for what it is worth to those who, having personal knowledge of these things, can see its significance.
It is a curious point that, during the brief twenty-four hours of the Thing's life, the opportunity for an effectual vengeance presented itself.
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