Occultism.ca Home Occult Lessons Clairvoyance Goths Reading the Crystal Mysticism Supernatural Metals Stonehenge Naturalism Witch Craft History of the Devil Crystal Gazing

Clairvoyance In Space: Intentional
Clairvoyance In Space: Semi-intentional
Clairvoyance In Space: Unintentional
Clairvoyance In Time: The Future
Clairvoyance In Time: The Past
Methods Of Development
Simple Clairvoyance: Full
Simple Clairvoyance: Partial
What Clairvoyance Is

Clairvoyance In Time: The Future

Even if, in a dim sort of way, we feel ourselves able to grasp the
idea that the whole of the past may be simultaneously and actively
present in a sufficiently exalted consciousness, we are confronted by
a far greater difficulty when we endeavour to realize how all the
future may also be comprehended in that consciousness. If we could
believe in the Mohammedan doctrine of kismet, or the Calvinistic
theory of predestination, the conception would be easy enough, but
knowing as we do that both these are grotesque distortions of the
truth, we must look round for a more acceptable hypothesis.

There may still be some people who deny the possibility of prevision,
but such denial simply shows their ignorance of the evidence on the
subject. The large number of authenticated cases leaves no room for
doubt as to the fact, but many of them are of such a nature as to
render a reasonable explanation by no means easy to find. It is
evident that the Ego possesses a certain amount of previsional
faculty, and if the events foreseen were always of great importance,
one might suppose that an extraordinary stimulus had enabled him for
that occasion only to make a clear impression of what he saw upon his
lower personality. No doubt that is the explanation of many of the
cases in which death or grave disaster is foreseen, but there are a
large number of instances on record to which it does not seem to
apply, since the events foretold are frequently exceedingly trivial
and unimportant.

A well-known story of second-sight in Scotland will illustrate what I
mean. A man who had no belief in the occult was forewarned by a
Highland seer of the approaching death of a neighbour. The prophecy
was given with considerable wealth of detail, including a full
description of the funeral, with the names of the four pall-bearers
and others who would be present. The auditor seems to have laughed at
the whole story and promptly forgotten it, but the death of his
neighbour at the time foretold recalled the warning to his mind, and
he determined to falsify part of the prediction at any rate by being
one of the pall-bearers himself. He succeeded in getting matters
arranged as he wished, but just as the funeral was about to start he
was called away from his post by some small matter which detained him
only a minute or two. As he came hurrying back he saw with surprise
that the procession had started without him, and that the prediction
had been exactly fulfilled, for the four pall-bearers were those who
had been indicated in the vision.

Now here is a very trifling matter, which could have been of no
possible importance to anybody, definitely foreseen months beforehand;
and although a man makes a determined effort to alter the arrangement
indicated he fails entirely to affect it in the least. Certainly this
looks very much like predestination, even down to the smallest detail,
and it is only when we examine this question from higher planes that
we are able to see our way to escape that theory. Of course, as I said
before about another branch of the subject, a full explanation eludes
us as yet, and obviously must do so until our knowledge is infinitely
greater than it is now; the most that we can hope to do for the
present is to indicate the line along which an explanation may be

There is no doubt whatever that, just as what is happening now is the
result of causes set in motion in the past, so what will happen in the
future will be the result of causes already in operation. Even down
here we can calculate that if certain actions are performed certain
results will follow, but our reckoning is constantly liable to be
disturbed by the interference of factors which we have not been able
to take into account. But if we raise our consciousness to the mental
plane we can see very much farther into the results of our actions.

We can trace, for example, the effect of a casual word, not only upon
the person to whom it was addressed, but through him on many others as
it is passed on in widening circles, until it seems to have affected
the whole country; and one glimpse of such a vision is far more
efficient than any number of moral precepts in impressing upon us the
necessity of extreme circumspection in thought, word, and deed. Not
only can we from that plane see thus fully the result of every action,
but we can also see where and in what way the results of other actions
apparently quite unconnected with it will interfere with and modify
it. In fact, it may be said that the results of all causes at present
in action are clearly visible--that the future, as it would be if no
entirely new causes should arise, lies open before our gaze.

New causes of course do arise, because man's will is free; but in the
case of all ordinary people the use which they will make of their
freedom can be calculated beforehand with considerable accuracy. The
average man has so little real will that he is very much the creature
of circumstances; his action in previous lives places him amid certain
surroundings, and their influence upon him is so very much the most
important factor in his life-story that his future course may be
predicted with almost mathematical certainty. With the developed man
the case is different; for him also the main events of life are
arranged by his past actions, but the way in which he will allow them
to affect him, the methods by which he will deal with them and perhaps
triumph over them--these are all his own, and they cannot be foreseen
even on the mental plane except as probabilities.

Looking down on man's life in this way from above, it seems as though
his free will could be exercised only at certain crises in his career.
He arrives at a point in his life where there are obviously two or
three alternative courses open before him; he is absolutely free to
choose which of them he pleases, and although some one who knew his
nature thoroughly well might feel almost certain what his choice would
be, such knowledge on his friend's part is in no sense a compelling

But when he has chosen, he has to go through with it and take the
consequences; having entered upon a particular path he may, in many
cases, be forced to go on for a very long way before he has any
opportunity to turn aside. His position is somewhat like that of the
driver of a train; when he comes to a junction he may have the points
set either this way or that, and so can pass on to whichever line he
pleases, but when he has passed on to one of them he is compelled to
run on along the line which he has selected until he reaches another
set of points, where again an opportunity of choice is offered to him.

Now, in looking down from the mental plane, these points of new
departure would be clearly visible, and all the results of each choice
would lie open before us, certain to be worked out even to the
smallest detail. The only point which would remain uncertain would be
the all-important one as to which choice the man would make. We
should, in fact, have not one but several futures mapped out before
our eyes, without necessarily being able to determine which of them
would materialize itself into accomplished fact. In most instances we
should see so strong a probability that we should not hesitate to come
to a decision, but the case which I have described is certainly
theoretically possible. Still, even this much knowledge would enable
us to do with safety a good deal of prediction; and it is not
difficult for us to imagine that a far higher power than ours might
always be able to foresee which way every choice would go, and
consequently to prophesy with absolute certainty.

On the buddhic plane, however, no such elaborate process of conscious
calculation is necessary, for, as I said before, in some manner which
down here is totally inexplicable, the past, the present, and the
future, are there all existing simultaneously. One can only accept
this fact, for its cause lies in the faculty of the plane, and the
way in which this higher faculty works is naturally quite
incomprehensible to the physical brain. Yet now and then one may meet
with a hint that seems to bring us a trifle nearer to a dim
possibility of comprehension. One such hint was given by Dr. Oliver
Lodge in his address to the British Association at Cardiff. He said:

"A luminous and helpful idea is that time is but a relative mode of
regarding things; we progress through phenomena at a certain definite
pace, and this subjective advance we interpret in an objective manner,
as if events moved necessarily in this order and at this precise rate.
But that may be only one mode of regarding them. The events may be in
some sense in existence always, both past and future, and it may be we
who are arriving at them, not they which are happening. The analogy of a
traveller in a railway train is useful; if he could never leave the
train nor alter its pace he would probably consider the landscapes as
necessarily successive and be unable to conceive their co-existence....
We perceive, therefore, a possible fourth dimensional aspect about time,
the inexorableness of whose flow may be a natural part or our present
limitations. And if we once grasp the idea that past and future may be
actually existing, we can recognize that they may have a controlling
influence on all present action, and the two together may constitute the
'higher plane' or totality of things after which, as it seems to me, we
are impelled to seek, in connection with the directing of form or
determinism, and the action of living beings consciously directed to a
definite and preconceived end."

Time is not in reality the fourth dimension at all; yet to look at it
for the moment from that point of view is some slight help towards
grasping the ungraspable. Suppose that we hold a wooden cone at right
angles to a sheet of paper, and slowly push it through it point first.
A microbe living on the surface of that sheet of paper, and having no
power of conceiving anything outside of that surface, could not only
never see the cone as a whole, but he could form no sort of conception
of such a body at all. All that he would see would be the sudden
appearance of a tiny circle, which would gradually and mysteriously
grow larger and larger until it vanished from his world as suddenly
and incomprehensibly as it had come into it.

Thus, what were in reality a series of sections of the cone would
appear to him to be successive stages in the life of a circle, and it
would be impossible for him to grasp the idea that these successive
stages could be seen simultaneously. Yet it is, of course, easy enough
for us, looking down upon the transaction from another dimension, to
see that the microbe is simply under a delusion arising from its own
limitations, and that the cone exists as a whole all the while. Our
own delusion as to past, present, and future is possibly not
dissimilar, and the view that is gained of any sequence of events from
the buddhic plane corresponds to the view of the cone as a whole.
Naturally, any attempt to work out this suggestion lands us in a
series of startling paradoxes; but the fact remains a fact,
nevertheless, and the time will come when it will be clear as noonday
to our comprehension.

When the pupil's consciousness is fully developed upon the buddhic
plane, therefore, perfect prevision is possible to him, though he may
not--nay, he certainly will not--be able to bring the whole result of
his sight through fully and in order into this light. Still, a great
deal of clear foresight is obviously within his power whenever he
likes to exercise it; and even when he is not exercising it, frequent
flashes of fore-knowledge come through into his ordinary life, so that
he often has an instantaneous intuition as to how things will turn out
even before their inception.

Short of this perfect prevision we find, as in the previous cases,
that all degrees of this type of clairvoyance exist, from the
occasional vague premonitions which cannot in any true sense be called
sight at all, up to frequent and fairly complete second-sight. The
faculty to which this latter somewhat misleading name has been given
is an extremely interesting one, and would well repay more careful
and systematic study than has ever hitherto been given to it.

It is best known to us as a not infrequent possession of the Scottish
Highlanders, though it is by no means confined to them. Occasional
instances of it have appeared in almost every nation, but it has
always been commonest among mountaineers and men of lonely life. With
us in England it is often spoken of as though it were the exclusive
appanage of the Celtic race, but in reality it has appeared among
similarly situated peoples the world over. It is stated, for example,
to be very common among the Westphalian peasantry.

Sometimes the second-sight consists of a picture clearly foreshowing
some coming event; more frequently, perhaps, the glimpse of the future
is given by some symbolical appearance. It is noteworthy that the
events foreseen are invariably unpleasant ones--death being the
commonest of all; I do not recollect a single instance in which the
second-sight has shown anything which was not of the most gloomy
nature. It has a ghastly symbolism which is all its own--a symbolism
of shrouds and corpse-candles, and other funereal horrors. In some
cases it appears to be to a certain extent dependent on locality, for
it is stated that inhabitants of the Isle of Skye who possess the
faculty often lose it when they leave the island, even though it be
only to cross to the mainland. The gift of such sight is sometimes
hereditary in a family for generations, but this is not an invariable
rule, for it often appears sporadically in one member of a family
otherwise free from its lugubrious influence.

An example in which an accurate vision of a coming event was seen some
months beforehand by second-sight has already been given. Here is
another and perhaps a more striking one, which I give exactly as it
was related to me by one of the actors in the scene.

"We plunged into the jungle, and had walked on for about an hour
without much success, when Cameron, who happened to be next to me,
stopped suddenly, turned pale as death, and, pointing straight before
him, cried in accents of horror:

"'See! see! merciful heaven, look there!'

"'Where? what? what is it?' we all shouted confusedly, as we rushed up
to him and looked round in expectation of encountering a tiger--a
cobra--we hardly knew what, but assuredly something terrible, since it
had been sufficient to cause such evident emotion in our usually
self-contained comrade. But neither tiger nor cobra was
visible--nothing but Cameron pointing with ghastly, haggard face and
starting eyeballs at something we could not see.

"'Cameron! Cameron' cried I, seizing his arm, "'for heaven's sake,
speak! What is the matter?'

"Scarcely were the words out of my mouth when a low, but very peculiar
sound struck on my ear, and Cameron, dropping his pointing hand, said
in a hoarse, strained voice, 'There! you heard it? Thank God it's
over' and fell to the ground insensible.

"There was a momentary confusion while we unfastened his collar, and I
dashed in his face some water which I fortunately had in my flask,
while another tried to pour brandy between his clenched teeth; and
under cover of it I whispered to the man next to me (one of our
greatest sceptics, by the way), 'Beauchamp, did you hear anything?'

"'Why, yes,' he replied, a curious sound, very; a sort of crash or
rattle far away in the distance, yet very distinct; if the thing were
not utterly impossible, I could have sworn it was the rattle of

"'Just my impression,' murmured I; 'but hush! he is recovering.'

"In a minute or two he was able to speak feebly, and began to thank us
and apologize for giving trouble; and soon he sat up, leaning against
a tree, and in a firm, though still low voice said:

"'My dear friends, I feel I owe you an explanation of my extraordinary
behaviour. It is an explanation that I would fain avoid giving; but it
must come some time, and so may as well be given now. You may perhaps
have noticed that when during our voyage you all joined in scoffing at
dreams, portents and visions, I invariably avoided giving any opinion
on the subject. I did so because, while I had no desire to court
ridicule or provoke discussion, I was unable to agree with you,
knowing only too well from my own dread experience that the world
which men agree to call that of the supernatural is just as real
as--nay, perhaps, even far more real than--this world we see about us.
In other words, I, like many of my countrymen, am cursed with the gift
of second-sight--that awful faculty which foretells in vision
calamities that are shortly to occur.

"'Such a vision I had just now, and its exceptional horror moved me as
you have seen. I saw before me a corpse--not that of one who has died
a peaceful natural death, but that of the victim of some terrible
accident; a ghastly, shapeless mass, with a face swollen, crushed,
unrecognizable. I saw this dreadful object placed in a coffin, and the
funeral service performed over it. I saw the burial-ground, I saw the
clergyman: and though I had never seen either before, I can picture
both perfectly in my mind's eye now; I saw you, myself, Beauchamp, all
of us and many more, standing round as mourners; I saw the soldiers
raise their muskets after the service was over; I heard the volley
they fired--and then I knew no more.'

"As he spoke of that volley of musketry I glanced across with a
shudder at Beauchamp, and the look of stony horror on that handsome
sceptic's face was not to be forgotten."

This is only one incident (and by no means the principal one) in a
very remarkable story of psychic experience, but as for the moment we
are concerned merely with the example of second-sight which it gives
us, I need only say that later in the day the party of young soldiers
discovered the body of their commanding officer in the terrible
condition so graphically described by Mr. Cameron. The narrative

"When, on the following evening, we arrived at our destination, and
our melancholy deposition had been taken down by the proper
authorities, Cameron and I went out for a quiet walk, to endeavour
with the assistance of the soothing influence of nature to shake off
something of the gloom which paralyzed our spirits. Suddenly he
clutched my arm, and, pointing through some rude railings, said in a
trembling voice, 'Yes, there it is! that is the burial-ground I saw
yesterday.' And when later on we were introduced to the chaplain of
the post, I noticed, though my friends did not, the irrepressible
shudder with which Cameron took his hand, and I knew that he had
recognized the clergyman of his vision."

As for the occult rationale of all this, I presume Mr. Cameron's
vision was a pure case of second-sight, and if so the fact that the
two men who were evidently nearest to him (certainly one--probably
both--actually touching him) participated in it to the limited extent
of hearing the concluding volley, while the others who were not so
close did not, would show that the intensity with which the vision
impressed itself upon the seer occasioned vibrations in his mind-body
which were communicated to those of the persons in contact with him,
as in ordinary thought-transference. Anyone who wishes to read the
rest of the story will find it in the pages of Lucifer, vol. xx., p.

Scores of examples of similar nature to these might easily be
collected. With regard to the symbolical variety of this sight, it is
commonly stated among those who possess it that if on meeting a living
person they see a phantom shroud wrapped around him, it is a sure
prognostication of his death. The date of the approaching decease is
indicated either by the extent to which the shroud covers the body, or
by the time of day at which the vision is seen; for if it be in the
early morning they say that the man will die during the same day, but
if it be in the evening, then it will be only some time within a year.

Another variant (and a remarkable one) of the symbolic form of
second-sight is that in which the headless apparition of the person
whose death is foretold manifests itself to the seer. An example of
that class is given in Signs before Death as having happened in the
family of Dr. Ferrier, though in that case, if I recollect rightly,
the vision did not occur until the time of the death, or very near it.

Turning from seers who are regularly in possession of a certain
faculty, although its manifestations are only occasionally fully under
their control, we are confronted by a large number of isolated
instances of prevision in the case of people with whom it is not in
any way a regular faculty. Perhaps the majority of these occur in
dreams, although examples of the waking vision are by no means
wanting. Sometimes the prevision refers to an event of distinct
importance to the seer, and so justifies the action of the Ego in
taking the trouble to impress it. In other cases, the event is one
which is of no apparent importance, or is not in any way connected
with the man to whom the vision comes. Sometimes it is clear that the
intention of the Ego (or the communicating entity, whatever it may be)
is to warn the lower self of the approach of some calamity, either in
order that it may be prevented or, if that be not possible, that the
shock may be minimized by preparation.

The event most frequently thus foreshadowed is, perhaps not
unnaturally, death--sometimes the death of the seer himself, sometimes
that of one dear to him. This type of prevision is so common in the
literature of the subject, and its object is so obvious, that we need
hardly cite examples of it; but one or two instances in which the
prophetic sight, though clearly useful, was yet of a less sombre
character, will prove not uninteresting to the reader. The following
is culled from that storehouse of the student of the uncanny, Mrs.
Crowe's Night Side of Nature, p. 72.

"A few years ago Dr. Watson, now residing at Glasgow, dreamt that he
received a summons to attend a patient at a place some miles from
where he was living; that he started on horseback, and that as he was
crossing a moor he saw a bull making furiously at him, whose horns he
only escaped by taking refuge on a spot inaccessible to the animal,
where he waited a long time till some people, observing his situation,
came to his assistance and released him.

"Whilst at breakfast on the following morning the summons came, and
smiling at the odd coincidence (as he thought it), he started on
horseback. He was quite ignorant of the road he had to go, but by and
by he arrived at the moor, which he recognised, and presently the bull
appeared, coming full tilt towards him. But his dream had shown him
the place of refuge, for which he instantly made, and there he spent
three or four hours, besieged by the animal, till the country people
set him free. Dr. Watson declares that but for the dream he should not
have known in what direction to run for safety."

Another case, in which a much longer interval separated the warning
and its fulfilment, is given by Dr. F. G. Lee, in Glimpses of the
Supernatural, vol. i., p. 240.

"Mrs. Hannah Green, the housekeeper of a country family in
Oxfordshire, dreamt one night that she had been left alone in the
house upon a Sunday evening, and that hearing a knock at the door of
the chief entrance she went to it and there found an ill-looking tramp
armed with a bludgeon, who insisted on forcing himself into the house.
She thought that she struggled for some time to prevent him so doing,
but quite ineffectually, and that, being struck down by him and
rendered insensible, he thereupon gained ingress to the mansion. On
this she awoke.

"As nothing happened for a considerable period the circumstance of the
dream was soon forgotten, and, as she herself asserts, had altogether
passed away from her mind. However, seven years afterwards this same
housekeeper was left with two other servants to take charge of an
isolated mansion at Kensington (subsequently the town residence of the
family), when on a certain Sunday evening, her fellow-servants having
gone out and left her alone, she was suddenly startled by a loud knock
at the front door.

"All of a sudden the remembrance of her former dream returned to her
with singular vividness and remarkable force, and she felt her lonely
isolation greatly. Accordingly, having at once lighted a lamp on the
hall table--during which act the loud knock was repeated with
vigour--she took the precaution to go up to a landing on the stair and
throw up the window; and there to her intense terror she saw in the
flesh the very man whom years previously she had seen in her dream,
armed with the bludgeon and demanding an entrance.

"With great presence of mind she went down to the chief entrance, made
that and other doors and windows more secure, and then rang the
various bells of the house violently, and placed lights in the upper
rooms. It was concluded that by these acts the intruder was scared

Evidently in this case also the dream was of practical use, as without
it the worthy housekeeper would without doubt from sheer force of
habit have opened the door in the ordinary way in answer to the knock.

It is not, however, only in dream that the Ego impresses his lower
self with what he thinks it well for it to know. Many instances
showing this might be taken from the books, but instead of quoting
from them I will give a case related only a few weeks ago by a lady of
my acquaintance--a case which, although not surrounded with any
romantic incident, has at least the merit of being new.

My friend, then, has two quite young children, and a little while ago
the elder of them caught (as was supposed) a bad cold, and suffered
for some days from a complete stoppage in the upper part of the nose.
The mother thought little of this, expecting it to pass off, until one
day she suddenly saw before her in the air what she describes as a
picture of a room, in the centre of which was a table on which her
child was lying insensible or dead, with some people bending over her.
The minutest details of the scene were clear to her, and she
particularly noticed that the child wore a white night-dress, whereas
she knew that all garments of that description possessed by her little
daughter happened to be pink.

This vision impressed her considerably, and suggested to her for the
first time that the child might be suffering from something more
serious than a cold, so she carried her off to a hospital for
examination. The surgeon who attended to her discovered the presence
of a dangerous growth in the nose, which he pronounced must be
removed. A few days later the child was taken to the hospital for the
operation, and was put to bed. When the mother arrived at the hospital
she found she had forgotten to bring one of the child's night-dresses,
and so the nurses had to supply one, which was white. In this white
dress the operation was performed on the girl the next day, in the
room that her mother saw in her vision, every circumstance being
exactly reproduced.

In all these cases the prevision achieved its result, but the books
are full of stories of warnings neglected or scouted, and of the
disaster that consequently followed. In some cases the information is
given to someone who has practically no power to interfere in the
matter, as in the historic instance when John Williams, a Cornish
mine-manager, foresaw in the minutest detail, eight or nine days
before it took place, the assassination of Mr. Spencer Perceval, the
then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the lobby of the House of
Commons. Even in this case, however, it is just possible that
something might have been done, for we read that Mr. Williams was so
much impressed that he consulted his friends as to whether he ought
not to go up to London to warn Mr. Perceval. Unfortunately they
dissuaded him, and the assassination took place. It does not seem very
probable that, even if he had gone up to town and related his story,
much attention would have been paid to him, still there is just the
possibility that some precautions might have been taken which would
have prevented the murder.

There is little to show us what particular action on higher planes led
to this curious prophetic vision. The parties were entirely unknown to
one another, so that it was not caused by any close sympathy between
them. If it was an attempt made by some helper to avert the threatened
doom, it seems strange that no one who was sufficiently impressible
could be found nearer than Cornwall. Perhaps Mr. Williams, when on the
astral plane during sleep, somehow came across this reflection of the
future, and being naturally horrified thereby, passed it on to his
lower mind in the hope that somehow something might be done to
prevent it; but it is impossible to diagnose the case with certainty
without examining the akashic records to see what actually took place.

A typical instance of the absolutely purposeless foresight is that
related by Mr. Stead, in his Real Ghost Stories (p. 83), of his
friend Miss Freer, commonly known as Miss X. When staying at a country
house this lady, being wide awake and fully conscious, once saw a
dogcart drawn by a white horse standing at the hall door, with two
strangers in it, one of whom got out of the cart and stood playing
with a terrier. She noticed that he was wearing an ulster, and also
particularly observed the fresh wheel-marks made by the cart on the
gravel. Nevertheless there was no cart there at the time; but half an
hour later two strangers did drive up in such an equipage, and every
detail of the lady's vision was accurately fulfilled. Mr. Stead goes
on to cite another instance of equally purposeless prevision where
seven years separated the dream (for in this case it was a dream) and
its fulfilment.

All these instances (and they are merely random selections from many
hundreds) show that a certain amount of prevision is undoubtedly
possible to the Ego, and such cases would evidently be much more
frequent if it were not for the exceeding density and lack of response
in the lower vehicles of the majority of what we call civilized
mankind--qualities chiefly attributable to the gross practical
materialism of the present age. I am not thinking of any profession of
materialistic belief as common, but of the fact that in all practical
affairs of daily life nearly everyone is guided solely by
considerations of worldly interest in some shape or other.

In many cases the Ego himself may be an undeveloped one, and his
prevision consequently very vague; in others he himself may see
clearly, but may find his lower vehicles so unimpressible that all he
can succeed in getting through into his physical brain may be an
indefinite presage of coming disaster. Again, there are cases in which
a premonition is not the work of the Ego at all, but of some outside
entity, who for some reason takes a friendly interest in the person to
whom the feeling comes. In the work which I quoted above, Mr. Stead
tells us of the certainty which he felt many months beforehand that be
would be left in charge of the Pall Mall Gazette though from an
ordinary point of view nothing seemed less probable. Whether that
fore-knowledge was the result of an impression made by his own Ego or
of a friendly hint from someone else it is impossible to say without
definite investigation, but his confidence in it was fully justified.

There is one more variety of clairvoyance in time which ought not to
be left without mention. It is a comparatively rare one, but there
are enough examples on record to claim our attention, though
unfortunately the particulars given do not usually include those which
we should require in order to be able to diagnose it with certainty. I
refer to the cases in which spectral armies or phantom flocks of
animals have been seen. In The Night Side of Nature (p. 462 et
seq.) we have accounts of several such visions. We are there told how
at Havarah Park, near Ripley, a body of soldiers in white uniform,
amounting to several hundreds, was seen by reputable people to go
through various evolutions and then vanish; and how some years earlier
a similar visionary army was seen in the neighbourhood of Inverness by
a respectable farmer and his son.

In this case also the number of troops was very great, and the
spectators had not the slightest doubt at first that they were
substantial forms of flesh and blood. They counted at least sixteen
pairs of columns, and had abundance of time to observe every
particular. The front ranks marched seven abreast, and were
accompanied by a good many women and children, who were carrying tin
cans and other implements of cookery. The men were clothed in red, and
their arms shone brightly in the sun. In the midst of them was an
animal, a deer or a horse, they could not distinguish which, that they
were driving furiously forward with their bayonets.

The younger of the two men observed to the other that every now and
then the rear ranks were obliged to run to overtake the van; and the
elder one, who had been a soldier, remarked that that was always the
case, and recommended him if he ever served to try to march in the
front. There was only one mounted officer; he rode a grey dragoon
horse, and wore a gold-laced hat and blue Hussar cloak, with wide open
sleeves lined with red. The two spectators observed him so
particularly that they said afterwards they should recognize him
anywhere. They were, however, afraid of being ill-treated or forced to
go along with the troops, whom they concluded to have come from
Ireland, and landed at Kyntyre; and whilst they were climbing over a
dyke to get out of their way, the whole thing vanished.

A phenomenon of the same sort was observed in the earlier part of this
century at Paderborn in Westphalia, and seen by at least thirty
people; but as, some years later, a review of twenty thousand men was
held on the very same spot, it was concluded that the vision must have
been some sort of second-sight--a faculty not uncommon in the

Such spectral hosts, however, are sometimes seen where an army of
ordinary men could by no possibility have marched, either before or
after. One of the most remarkable accounts of such apparitions is
given by Miss Harriet Martineau, in her description of The English
Lakes. She writes as follows:--

"This Souter or Soutra Fell is the mountain on which ghosts appeared
in myriads, at intervals during ten years of the last century,
presenting the same appearances to twenty-six chosen witnesses, and to
all the inhabitants of all the cottages within view of the mountain,
and for a space of two hours and a half at one time--the spectral show
being closed by darkness! The mountain, be it remembered, is full of
precipices, which defy all marching of bodies of men; and the north
and west sides present a sheer perpendicular of 900 feet.

"On Midsummer Eve, 1735, a farm servant of Mr. Lancaster, half a mile
from the mountain, saw the eastern side of its summit covered with
troops, which pursued their onward march for an hour. They came, in
distinct bodies, from an eminence on the north end, and disappeared in
a niche in the summit. When the poor fellow told his tale, he was
insulted on all hands, as original observers usually are when they see
anything wonderful. Two years after, also on a Midsummer Eve, Mr.
Lancaster saw some men there, apparently following their horses, as if
they had returned from hunting. He thought nothing of this; but he
happened to look up again ten minutes after, and saw the figures, now
mounted, and followed by an interminable array of troops, five
abreast, marching from the eminence and over the cleft as before. All
the family saw this, and the manoeuvres of the force, as each
company was kept in order by a mounted officer, who galloped this way
and that. As the shades of twilight came on, the discipline appeared
to relax, and the troops intermingled, and rode at unequal paces, till
all was lost in darkness. Now of course all the Lancasters were
insulted, as their servant had been; but their justification was not
long delayed.

"On the Midsummer Eve of the fearful 1745, twenty-six persons,
expressly summoned by the family, saw all that had been seen before,
and more. Carriages were now interspersed with the troops; and
everybody knew that no carriages had been, or could be, on the summit
of Souter Fell. The multitude was beyond imagination; for the troops
filled a space of half a mile, and marched quickly till night hid
them--still marching. There was nothing vaporous or indistinct about
the appearance of these spectres. So real did they seem, that some of
the people went up, the next morning, to look for the hoof-marks of
the horses; and awful it was to them to find not one foot-print on
heather or grass. The witnesses attested the whole story on oath
before a magistrate; and fearful were the expectations held by the
whole country-side about the coming events of the Scotch rebellion.

"It now comes out that two other persons had seen something of the
sort in the interval--viz., in 1743--but had concealed it, to escape
the insults to which their neighbours were subjected. Mr. Wren, of
Wilton Hall, and his farm servant, saw, one summer evening, a man and
a dog on the mountain, pursuing some horses along a place so steep
that a horse could hardly by any possibility keep a footing on it.
Their speed was prodigious, and their disappearance at the south end
of the fell so rapid, that Mr. Wren and the servant went up, the next
morning, to find the body of the man who must have been killed. Of
man, horse, or dog, they found not a trace and they came down and held
their tongues. When they did speak, they fared not much better for
having twenty-six sworn comrades in their disgrace.

"As for the explanation, the editor of the Lonsdale Magazine
declared (vol. ii., p. 313) that it was discovered that on the
Midsummer Eve of 1745 the rebels were 'exercising on the western coast
of Scotland, whose movements had been reflected by some transparent
vapour, similar to the Fata Morgana.' This is not much in the way of
explanation; but it is, as far as we know, all that can be had at
present. These facts, however, brought out a good many more; as the
spectral march of the same kind seen in Leicestershire in 1707, and
the tradition of the tramp of armies over Helvellyn, on the eve of the
battle of Marston Moor."

Other cases are cited in which flocks of spectral sheep have been seen
on certain roads, and there are of course various German stories of
phantom cavalcades of hunters and robbers.

Now in these cases, as so often happens in the investigation of occult
phenomena, there are several possible causes, any one of which would
be quite adequate to the production of the observed occurrences, but
in the absence of fuller information it is hardly feasible to do more
than guess as to which of these possible causes were in operation in
any particular instance.

The explanation usually suggested (whenever the whole story is not
ridiculed as a falsehood) is that what is seen is a reflection by
mirage of the movements of a real body of troops, taking place at a
considerable distance. I have myself seen the ordinary mirage on
several occasions, and know something therefore of its wonderful
powers of deception; but it seems to me that we should need some
entirely new variety of mirage, quite different from that at present
known to science, to account for these tales of phantom armies, some
of which pass the spectator within a few yards.

First of all, they may be, as apparently in the Westphalian case above
mentioned, simply instances of prevision on a gigantic scale--by whom
arranged, and for what purpose, it is not easy to divine. Again, they
may often belong to the past instead of the future, and be in fact the
reflection of scenes from the akashic records--though here again the
reason and method of such reflection is not obvious.

There are plenty of tribes of nature-spirits perfectly capable, if for
any reason they wished to do so, of producing such appearances by
their wonderful power of glamour (see Theosophical Manual, No. V.,
p. 60), and such action would be quite in keeping with their delight
in mystifying and impressing human beings. Or it may even sometimes be
kindly intended by them as a warning to their friends of events that
they know to be about to take place. It seems as though some
explanation along these lines would be the most reasonable method of
accounting for the extraordinary series of phenomena described by Miss
Martineau--that is, if the stories told to her can be relied upon.

Another possibility is that in some cases what have been taken for
soldiers were simply the nature-spirits themselves going through some
of the ordered evolutions in which they take so much delight, though
it must be admitted that these are rarely of a character which could
be mistaken for military manoeuvres except by the most ignorant.

The flocks of animals are probably in most instances mere records, but
there are cases where they, like the "wild huntsmen" of German story,
belong to an entirely different class of phenomena, which is
altogether outside of our present subject. Students of the occult
will be familiar with the fact that the circumstances surrounding any
scene of intense terror or passion, such as an exceptionally horrible
murder, are liable to be occasionally reproduced in a form which it
needs a very slight development of psychic faculty to be able to see
and it has sometimes happened that various animals formed part of such
surroundings, and consequently they also are periodically reproduced
by the action of the guilty conscience of the murderer (see Manual
V., p. 83).

Probably whatever foundation of fact underlies the various stories of
spectral horsemen and hunting-troops may generally be referred to this
category. This is also the explanation, evidently, of some of the
visions of ghostly armies, such as that remarkable re-enactment of the
battle of Edgehill which seems to have taken place at intervals for
some months after the date of the real struggle, as testified by a
justice of the peace, a clergyman, and other eye-witnesses, in a
curious contemporary pamphlet entitled Prodigious Noises of War and
Battle, at Edgehill, near Keinton, in Northamptonshire. According to
the pamphlet this case was investigated at the time by some officers
of the army, who clearly recognized many of the phantom figures that
they saw. This looks decidedly like an instance of the terrible power
of man's unrestrained passions to reproduce themselves, and to cause
in some strange way a kind of materialization of their record.

In some cases it is clear that the flocks of animals seen have been
simply hordes of unclean artificial elementals taking that form in
order to feed upon the loathsome emanations of peculiarly horrible
places, such as would be the site of a gallows. An instance of this
kind is furnished by the celebrated "Gyb Ghosts," or ghosts of the
gibbet, described in More Glimpses of the World Unseen, p. 109, as
being repeatedly seen in the form of herds of mis-shapen swine-like
creatures, rushing, rooting and fighting night after night on the site
of that foul monument of crime. But these belong to the subject of
apparitions rather than to that of clairvoyance.

Next: Methods Of Development

Previous: Clairvoyance In Time: The Past

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 1493