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Psychic or Supermundane Forces

by Cora L. V. Richmond

From between ten and eleven years of age I have been endowed with gifts and favored with experiences that, I am well assured, are very exceptional, and that, until quite recently, have not been admitted to the realm of psychical investigation, philosophical discussion, or even human credence. Lately, however, there have been found a sufficient number of well authenticated facts in similar lines of experience to warrant the investigation and classification of them (if possible) under a modern name, “Psychic Research,” and under a well established and not so recent one, Spiritualism.

I am not intending to discuss these subjects, per se, nor to endeavor to classify or explain the experiences I am about to relate. They are experiences, as real as any of those in my human or mundane existence; indeed, if I were called upon to decide that one is real and the other illusion, I should say without hesitation that these, and similar ones throughout my lifetime, are the real, and the ordinary mundane experiences unreal.

At the age above referred to I was, without any seeking, and without any surrounding circumstances to “suggest” such a state, taken possession of (entranced) by intelligences, distinct personalities in thought, word, and action, who spoke through my organism, unfolded and educated my mind, in fact became my mental and spiritual instructors. The public discourses and teachings given under these conditions are well known to many of the readers of The Arena, as these labors are the work of a lifetime.

It is not of this public work that I am constrained to write; but I may as well say here that I have had no other teachers, no other instructors, and have pursued no course of study or reading of human books; those whom I call my guides and guardians have been my teachers. During the time that these outside intelligences are controlling and speaking through my organism I am wholly unconscious of what is passing in human life and wholly unaware of that which is being uttered through my lips. I am also unaware of the lapse of time.

It may be best for me to here declare that I am not, in the usual sense, peculiar, nor was I different in my childhood from other children, save as each differs from the other. I was very diffident, and—not using the word in the psychical sense—sensitive. I was not given to morbid states or to the “dreaming of dreams.” Perhaps I was imaginative; most children are; and I loved fairy tales, but not unduly. This is simply to show that there was no abnormal condition of mind or body to produce the supernormal results that I have referred to.

I ought also to say that I never made the slightest preparation for the discourses and poems given through my lips, many of which, as the reader may know, were listened to by able and thoughtful minds, and from them received the highest praise. I tell this, not boastingly, but with humble gratitude that I have been made the instrument of giving the message of immortality to the world.

My own experiences during this period of entrancement, or while in the supernormal state, may be of peculiar interest to the reader, since they seem to be almost unique. While passing into this state I experience no physical sensations that are describable; a sense of being set free, of passing into a larger realm,—not of being transported or going anywhere,—is all that I can ever recall as sensation. Before I have time or opportunity to think how I feel, I am in the other state. Then I see, but I now know it is perception more than sight; I sometimes experience that which we call hearing in the human state, but I am fully aware; perception supersedes the senses.

Those whom I meet are individualities; many are friends known to me in the form before they passed from the mortal state; many are those who were unknown to me personally, only known by name and fame; and many I have never known until they revealed themselves to me in this “inner,” “higher,” other realm. When returning to outward consciousness, I often see, or remember as sight, such visions of surpassing loveliness that no language, no gift of art, even with genius-portraiture, could describe or picture them. These scenes and visions are associated with individuals who exist in that state, and, apparently, are objective; yet I am fully aware that they illustrate or depict the states and tastes of the individuals with whom they are seen, and are not organic physical forms, but psychic projections of the individual spirits. These forms and scenes readily pass and change according to the state of the one seeing them, or according to the state of the individual with whom they are associated. The “sphere” of a spirit, or of spirits, is the state or condition, not the environment.

In early life, before my mind had thought on the “objective” and “subjective” meanings of thoughts and things, I thought these scenes were “objective” in the human, mundane sense. I am now perfectly aware that every sensuous faculty—seeing, hearing, etc.—is superseded by this “perception” to which I have before referred; in fact, that the bodily senses as well as the mental faculties—brain expression—are but the different avenues of perceiving and conveying the intelligence of the individual spirit while associated with material form, this perception, or awareness, being the one supreme state of the spirit.

Still I have been shown series after series of beautiful scenes,—gardens, landscapes, visions of art, transcendent pictures of tint, form, and tone that no language can portray; and I am sure these abide for all who wish for or have need of them, and are the illustrations of the spiritual states of those with whom one comes in spiritual contact—rapport. Yet the greater the degree of perception, the less important become these illustrations of states; we not only see “face to face,” but perceive soul to soul. I became ashamed, almost, of the state of mind requiring these illustrations or any similar presentations. I found knowledge, however, in all the methods employed by my teachers, for they knew my needs.

Conversation in that state is not by means of speech or even language; sometimes before the thought is formulated the answer comes. Such is the rare sympathy existing between teacher and pupil in this state that the guide knows before the question is formed. Still, there must be the conscious desire for knowledge, or no knowledge can be received; reminding one of the “Seek, and ye shall find” of the ancient Truth-Teller.

When in that state I readily pass to a knowledge of what intimate friends in earth-life are doing and thinking. I even enter into such rapport as to be aware of their material surroundings, their states of mind, and their bodily health, obtaining all this from their minds, not from physical consciousness or sensation. Many times they have been also conscious of my presence, and we have afterward verified these experiences by outward correspondence, mostly to satisfy our friends. One or two instances will suffice to illustrate this class of experiences.

When I was yet a child, twelve years of age, my father accompanied me on one of my pilgrimages of spiritual work to western New York, our former home. During that visit or tour a circle for investigation and experiment was formed in Dunkirk, N. Y. After we returned to our then home in Wisconsin, I was one evening entranced,—as was usual,—and while in that state was distinctly conscious of being in Dunkirk, of seeing every member of the circle, with all of whom I was acquainted except one lady. She proved to be the seer of the evening. She saw me and described me so accurately that everyone in the circle recognized me, and, of course, thought I was dead. This so disturbed her mental or psychic state that I could not impress upon her mind that my body was entranced and that this was but one of my usual spiritual pilgrimages. On returning to my mundane state I narrated what I had experienced, and asked my father to write at once to the circle in Dunkirk and relieve their minds. He did so, but, as naturally would occur, they had also written, the letters crossing each other on the way, and their letter confirmed what I had told in every particular.

Later in life I had a lady friend whom I repeatedly visited and comforted, for she was in great sorrow. One time I made her see my body, or its apparition, so plainly that she saw the dress in which it was clothed—precisely what I had wished, as it was the color she most liked to see me wear. Another friend in California became so susceptible to my presence that she wrote long letters from me—automatically—which I, in this state, dictated to her, thus rendering correspondence between us almost superfluous except for verification to our outward senses. My own mother was aware of my presence almost daily; and it was a curious fact that my telltale spirit would go to her and reveal the very things I wished to keep from her,—any little surprises or presents, or the time of my arrival home on a visit. However late the hour, I always found her ready with a warm supper to receive me. When arriving after the journey home she would say: “You came to me last night in spirit and told me you were coming in body.” All important things connected with my welfare she knew in a similar way.

Two friends, Mr. and Mrs. B——, were extensive travellers. At one time they were absent three years, taking a tour of the Orient. We did not keep up a regular correspondence, as mutually our time was too much taken up with our respective duties or pleasures, but I could always locate them while I was in this “inner” state. At one time I saw them surrounded by what seemed more like a scene in the spirit state than in earth-life. They were on an island, surrounded by water-lilies; the skies were full of golden light, and they were amid pavilions, grottos, and altars of quaint and unique design. I could not place them, but on returning to my mundane state I related to my family what I had seen, and I wrote down the date. In about three or four weeks I had a letter from them dated at Tokio, giving a description of this very island I had seen; they were there on that very day when I saw them, and the island was as I had seen it. It proved to be one of the sacred islands in Japan.

This consciousness of visiting earth friends is, however, only the smallest part of these inner experiences; and usually occurs when I am passing into or out of the deeper or more spiritual states. Although I could fill volumes with these interesting experiences,—verified by being shared with others in human life,—I feel it due to the reader that I narrate my more inner experiences; at least in sufficient degree that they may be recorded, and that there may be some perception, however inadequately expressed, of what is possible in this surpassing realm.

I cannot pass from this subject of my visits to human friends, however, without here recording one other phase of this many-threaded line of experiences. While in this realm of spirit I often meet and converse freely, or commune, with friends that are yet in human forms, but who appear as spirits and seem to possess all the activities of the spiritual state. They meet and mingle freely with those who have “died” to human life, yet I am perfectly sure they recall nothing of this when in their human state. Why I should remember or take with me these experiences that the others whom I saw within this realm could not recall, I could not divine until it was explained by my guide.

The explanation is this: “In sleep mortals pass into this realm for spiritual rest and change, as it is the normal realm of the spirit; but they do not pass through the spiritual awakening of the faculties as those do who are endowed with ‘spiritual gifts,’ therefore the experiences cannot be recalled as experiences; still, they sometimes have vague reminiscences or glimpses of ‘unremembered dreams’ that aid them throughout the whole day, often for days; and thus the outward life is sustained and fed from this realm. By and by the race will have spiritual growth to know and remember the experiences of the spirit as they now do of the human life.” I have frequently met those in that state who were strangers to me here, and who were still in human life; and in after years I have met them face to face in outward form, often wondering if they thought they had seen me before, as I was certain I had seen them. When the whole of this other side of human experience is made known, how many things now veiled will stand revealed! By far the greater number of volumes could be filled with those transcendent experiences referred to earlier in these pages, with friends in spirit states, with teachers and guides in their own realm.

My mother, always intuitive, sympathetic, religious, and caring much for the sick and ailing while in earth life, I was accustomed to see in a sphere or state of her own near the “Healing Sphere” of one of my teachers. She was surrounded with her own favorite flowers—old-fashioned hollyhocks, sweet-williams, and fragrant healing herbs. My guide explained that in her thought, or spiritual, state she requires these things to aid her in healing or ministering to those on earth. Whenever I visited her state it seemed to be in the midst of scenery such as she loved on earth, and under a morning-glory-covered lattice, where she sat in a low chair like one I had seen her use in earth life. Though not limited to that state, she always revealed herself thus to me; and I would return to my earth state with a sense of homesickness, and with the odor of thyme and rosemary clinging to my psychic olfactories.

My father was interested in all the reforms of the day; he was a truly practical Christian, though not a professing one. He was looking for that ideal social state which we all hope is sometime coming, of “peace on earth and love to all.” His spirit state was revealed to me as among those arisen workers and reformers, whose work for humanity he loved and shared on earth, and learning of the wise ones,—a vast and wonderful sphere of individualities, who are still laboring for the good of humanity. I wished to know of my father, who passed out from the mortal form when I was thirteen years of age, and who was often my spirit teacher in my early life, why, after my mother had passed on, he was not always with her as in earth life. He replied, with a rare smile: “We are together; our work is different, but when we need each other we cannot be apart.”

Singly or in groups, or as my needs seemed to require, I was aware of every relative and friend who had passed from mortal life, whom our mutual wish or need attracted toward me. I am sure there may be those related by ties of consanguinity whom I have not seen, and many related only by spiritual sympathy and kinship whom I have met and loved in that state.

My babe, now a beautiful young woman in the spirit state, is my almost constant companion in those visitations and experiences. I have “seen her grow,” to use our mortal speech; have noted her spiritual unfoldment, and have many times been her pupil,—so wise are these “little ones” in the love of the angels, so sweet and simple is she in her teaching.

How few know the real meaning of “nearness” as applied to those they love! One thinks of the friend whose bodily presence is removed by mountains, rivers, and oceans as being far away; yet London, China, and India are as near in thought as the chair beside one, and doubly near the one whose body may be sojourning there. This very nearness of sympathy debars any separation. If people would turn to the real indications,—sympathy, intuition,—whenever desired the friend is near. Doubly true is this of those who have passed the barrier of death and are revealed to the heart of love. They have not died, they have not gone; they are so near as not to be seen or felt by the grosser sense that governs the physical state of recognition; so very near that even the thoughts of the friend still immured in the earthly form are shared by them, the very innermost longings responded to. Yet people unaccustomed to seek them in the inner instead of outer realm of existence, cannot find them, and say, “They are gone.” With space and time annihilated, what shall prevent the loved from being ever near?

Teachers and guides bear a nearer relationship than those in human states, and teach by the magic law of adaptation and love. I cannot name, in earthly language, the tie that binds me to those who have led me through these many realms, who have taught by vision, illustration, and thought, until the awakened perception knew, the a priori knowledge came.

I have often been conscious of visiting at desire a realm of music that led through the world of tone, through the spheres of matchless harmony in which the great masters of music abide,—Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and to the divine realm of Wagner.

The realm of art, leading through color and form to the images of perfect life, until form and tint and tone are merged in the supreme soul of beauty, and sculptured image or architectural grandeur is lost in the eternal, all-forming, all-changing changelessness of the Soul of Art.

The realm of nature (the material universe), seen from the inverse side, appears to be the effect of causes that are in that realm of consciousness; laws that are the operation of the Supreme Will, the Logos. There science is reconstructed and made plain, and made secure by the knowledge of these fundamental principles.

The realm of philosophy, traced to its primal sources, reveals the truths concerning universal knowledge, often perceived by the great teachers, but dimly stated by minds enshrouded by the environments of earth.

The realm of religion,—the ineffable meaning of the All-Love and Wisdom; the nearness, the perfectness, the absoluteness of the Divine; the kinship of souls, the fraternity of spirits,—never in all this realm was there a thought, or teaching of thought, separate from a conscious individual entity.

I find that there is no Time or Space in this inner realm; the entity is not governed by the limitations of the person, so the terms and usages of earthly existence must fall into desuetude. One is not hampered by an ox-team while flying across the plains in a palace coach impelled by steam, and one does not need winter garments and furs in the tropics. The state of spirit needs no earthly day and night; all these are but incident to the physical earth and physical existence. The spirit is free from these limitations—time, space, and sensuous environment.

It will be interesting for the reader to know that my physical health does not suffer from these experiences, nor from the active duties incident to my spiritual work in human life.

I enter this spirit realm as naturally and easily as one enters the realm of sleep; yet it is not sleep. The body and brain are actively employed by another intelligence, loaned as an instrument might be, while the individual consciousness, the ego of the human being, is set free to visit these illimitable realms or states of the “inner,” the vaster, life.

When the mundane consciousness returns, it is instantaneous; but the mental and physical sensations vary according to whether the experiences have been “near or far” from the human state, with reference not to distance, but to resemblance or similarity in quality. When the experiences have been furthest removed from those usual in human consciousness, many minutes, and sometimes hours, are required to adjust myself to the conditions. This inner state is far more intense, but not unlike that experienced when one has been wholly wrapped and folded from the outer world in perusing a favorite author—living with and experiencing the scenes depicted; or when one has listened for hours to the all-absorbing strains of music in the grand operatic creations of Wagner. On returning to the mundane state my food has often tasted like chips or straw; the fabric of my dress would feel coarse to the touch, as though woven of cords or ropes; and every sound seemed harsh or far too loud. Gradually these supersensitive conditions would depart, leaving the usual state of mind and body.

I have said it is easy to pass into that state; not so easy is the returning to the human environment; yet one must return. Like the child bidden to the task, reluctant to leave the garden of flowers and the freedom of the outer world, yet, constrained by love and duty, one consents to return. I suspect that these sensations I experience, of return to the human state, are something like those of resuscitation after one has been nearly drowned. The drowning is easy, because one is going into life; the restoration is painful, because one returns, if not to death, to mere existence. The work, the duty, the loved who are embodied here must win one to the form which has been loaned; but the spirit seems reluctant sometimes to leave that freedom and knowledge for the narrow walls of clay, the prison-house of sense. The only true way is to bring that realm with one into daily life. One learns after a time to do this: to clothe the earthly scenes with the inner brightness, and the human tasks with the spiritual aura of love and wisdom.

I cannot judge whether the scenes of earth seem lovelier to me than to most mortals; whether there is more ravishing sweetness in the springtime, more glory in summer, more richness and beauty in the autumn, more rest and whiteness in the winter, more transcendent splendor in the sunset sky and glory in the starlit heavens. But it is certain that in being admitted to this inner realm the writer has not lost any blessing of earth,—of love, of home, of friends, of practical knowledge and interest in the daily duties and work of life; nor, I believe, can one be barred from any needed experience, however bitter. These teachings, visions, and experiences of soul-life have given to earth an exquisite beauty; to life’s work a meaning and impetus; to trials a lesson and interpretation; to the change called death a glory and radiance; to spirit states a nearness, and to soul a reality. Nor do these experiences rob one of one’s individuality; the petty personality to which mortals cling is, happily, forgotten or cast aside, but the individuality cannot be lost, merged in another, or governed, except for its good. When the personal is cast aside, one is grateful for the impersonality of the individual.

Trailing clouds of glory accompany me across and into the barriers of time and sense, and when the sharp contrast is over—which the guide ever prevents from being too sudden—I realize the great sweetness of the gardens of paradise by the fragrance that is filling the earthly dwelling, and I know that being aware of the visitations of angels, and of somewhat of the light which is theirs, does not hinder, but helps human endeavor and accomplishment.