Clairvoyance In Space: Unintentional
Under this heading we may group together all those cases in which
visions of some event which is taking place at a distance are seen
quite unexpectedly and without any kind of preparation. There are
people who are subject to such visions, while there are many others to
whom such a thing will happen only once in a life-time. The visions
are of all kinds and of all degrees of completeness, and apparently
may be produced
y various causes. Sometimes the reason of the vision
is obvious, and the subject matter of the gravest importance; at other
times no reason at all is discoverable, and the events shown seem of
the most trivial nature.
Sometimes these glimpses of the super-physical faculty come as waking
visions, and sometimes they manifest during sleep as vivid or
oft-repeated dreams. In this latter case the sight employed is perhaps
usually of the kind assigned to our fourth subdivision of clairvoyance
in space, for the sleeping man often travels in his astral body to
some spot with which his affections or interests are closely
connected, and simply watches what takes place there; in the former it
seems probable that the second type of clairvoyance, by means of the
astral current, is called into requisition. But in this case the
current or tube is formed quite unconsciously, and is often the
automatic result of a strong thought or emotion projected from one end
or the other--either from the seer or the person who is seen.
The simplest plan will be to give a few instances of the different
kinds, and to intersperse among them such further explanations as may
seem necessary. Mr. Stead has collected a large and varied assortment
of recent and well-authenticated cases in his Real Ghost Stories,
and I will select some of my examples from them, occasionally
condensing slightly to save space.
There are cases in which it is at once obvious to any Theosophical
student that the exceptional instance of clairvoyance was specially
brought about by one of the band whom we have called "Invisible
Helpers" in order that aid might be rendered to some one in sore need.
To this class, undoubtedly, belongs the story told by Captain Yonnt,
of the Napa Valley in California, to Dr. Bushnell, who repeats it in
his Nature and the Supernatural (p. 14).
"About six or seven years previous, in a mid-winter's night, he had a
dream in which he saw what appeared to be a company of emigrants
arrested by the snows of the mountains, and perishing rapidly by cold
and hunger. He noted the very cast of the scenery, marked by a huge,
perpendicular front of white rock cliff; he saw the men cutting off
what appeared to be tree-tops rising out of deep gulfs of snow; he
distinguished the very features of the persons and the look of their
"He awoke profoundly impressed by the distinctness and apparent
reality of the dream. He at length fell asleep, and dreamed exactly
the same dream over again. In the morning he could not expel it from
his mind. Falling in shortly after with an old hunter comrade, he told
his story, and was only the more deeply impressed by his recognizing
without hesitation the scenery of the dream. This comrade came over
the Sierra by the Carson Valley Pass, and declared that a spot in the
Pass exactly answered his description.
"By this the unsophistical patriarch was decided. He immediately
collected a company of men, with mules and blankets and all necessary
provisions. The neighbours were laughing meantime at his credulity.
'No matter,' he said, 'I am able to do this, and I will, for I verily
believe that the fact is according to my dream.' The men were sent
into the mountains one hundred and fifty miles distant direct to the
Carson Valley Pass. And there they found the company exactly in the
condition of the dream, and brought in the remnant alive."
Since it is not stated that Captain Yonnt was in the habit of seeing
visions, it seems clear that some helper, observing the forlorn
condition of the emigrant party, took the nearest impressionable and
otherwise suitable person (who happened to be the Captain) to the spot
in the astral body, and aroused him sufficiently to fix the scene
firmly in his memory. The helper may possibly have arranged an "astral
current" for the Captain instead, but the former suggestion is more
probable. At any rate the motive, and broadly the method, of the work
are obvious enough in this case.
Sometimes the "astral current" may be set going by a strong emotional
thought at the other end of the line, and this may happen even though
the thinker has no such intention in his mind. In the rather striking
story which I am about to quote, it is evident that the link was
formed by the doctor's frequent thought about Mrs. Broughton, yet he
had clearly no especial wish that she should see what he was doing at
the time. That it was this kind of clairvoyance that was employed is
shown by the fixity of her point of view--which, be it observed, is
not the doctor's point of view sympathetically transferred (as it
might have been) since she sees his back without recognizing him. The
story is to be found in the Proceedings of the Psychical Research
Society (vol. ii., p. 160).
"Mrs. Broughton awoke one night in 1844, and roused her husband,
telling him that something dreadful had happened in France. He begged
her to go to sleep again, and not trouble him. She assured him that
she was not asleep when she saw what she insisted on telling him--what
she saw in fact.
"First a carriage accident--which she did not actually see, but what
she saw was the result--a broken carriage, a crowd collected, a figure
gently raised and carried into the nearest house, then a figure lying
on a bed which she then recognized as the Duke of Orleans. Gradually
friends collecting round the bed--among them several members of the
French royal family--the queen, then the king, all silently,
tearfully, watching the evidently dying duke. One man (she could see
his back, but did not know who he was) was a doctor. He stood bending
over the duke, feeling his pulse, with his watch in the other hand.
And then all passed away, and she saw no more.
"As soon as it was daylight she wrote down in her journal all that she
had seen. It was before the days of electric telegraph, and two or
more days passed before the Times announced 'The Death of the Duke
of Orleans.' Visiting Paris a short time afterwards she saw and
recognized the place of the accident and received the explanation of
her impression. The doctor who attended the dying duke was an old
friend of hers, and as he watched by the bed his mind had been
constantly occupied with her and her family."
A commoner instance is that in which strong affection sets up the
necessary current; probably a fairly steady stream of mutual thought
is constantly flowing between the two parties in the case, and some
sudden need or dire extremity on the part of one of them endues this
stream temporarily with the polarizing power which is needful to
create the astral telescope. An illustrative example is quoted from
the same Proceedings (vol. i., p. 30).
"On September 9th, 1848, at the siege of Mooltan, Major-General R----,
C.B., then adjutant of his regiment, was most severely and dangerously
wounded; and, supposing himself to be dying, asked one of the officers
with him to take the ring off his finger and send it to his wife, who
at the time was fully one hundred and fifty miles distant at
"'On the night of September 9th, 1848,' writes his wife, 'I was lying
on my bed, between sleeping and waking, when I distinctly saw my
husband being carried off the field seriously wounded, and heard his
voice saying, "Take this ring off my finger and send it to my wife."
All the next day I could not get the sight or the voice out of my
"'In due time I heard of General R---- having been severely wounded in
the assault of Mooltan. He survived, however, and is still living. It
was not for some time after the siege that I heard from General
L----, the officer who helped to carry my husband off the field, that
the request as to the ring was actually made by him, just as I heard
it at Ferozepore at that very time."
Then there is the very large class of casual clairvoyant visions which
have no traceable cause--which are apparently quite meaningless, and
have no recognizable relation to any events known to the seer. To this
class belong many of the landscapes seen by some people just before
they fall asleep. I quote a capital and very realistic account of an
experience of this sort from Mr. W. T. Stead's Real Ghost Stories
"I got into bed but was not able to go to sleep. I shut my eyes and
waited for sleep to come; instead of sleep, however, there came to me
a succession of curiously vivid clairvoyant pictures. There was no
light in the room, and it was perfectly dark; I had my eyes shut also.
But notwithstanding the darkness I suddenly was conscious of looking
at a scene of singular beauty. It was as if I saw a living miniature
about the size of a magic-lantern slide. At this moment I can recall
the scene as if I saw it again. It was a seaside piece. The moon was
shining upon the water, which rippled slowly on to the beach. Right
before me a long mole ran into the water.
"On either side of the mole irregular rocks stood up above the
sea-level. On the shore stood several houses, square and rude, which
resembled nothing that I had ever seen in house architecture. No one
was stirring, but the moon was there and the sea and the gleam of the
moonlight on the rippling waters, just as if I had been looking on the
"It was so beautiful that I remember thinking that if it continued I
should be so interested in looking at it that I should never go to
sleep. I was wide awake, and at the same time that I saw the scene I
distinctly heard the dripping of the rain outside the window. Then
suddenly, without any apparent object or reason, the scene changed.
"The moonlit sea vanished, and in its place I was looking right into
the interior of a reading-room. It seemed as if it had been used as a
schoolroom in the daytime, and was employed as a reading-room in the
evening. I remember seeing one reader who had a curious resemblance to
Tim Harrington, although it was not he, hold up a magazine or book in
his hand and laugh. It was not a picture--it was there.
"The scene was just as if you were looking through an opera-glass; you
saw the play of the muscles, the gleaming of the eye, every movement
of the unknown persons in the unnamed place into which you were
gazing. I saw all that without opening my eyes, nor did my eyes have
anything to do with it. You see such things as these as it were with
another sense which is more inside your head than in your eyes.
"This was a very poor and paltry experience, but it enabled me to
understand better how it is that clairvoyants see than any amount of
"The pictures were apropos of nothing; they had been suggested by
nothing I had been reading or talking of; they simply came as if I had
been able to look through a glass at what was occurring somewhere else
in the world. I had my peep, and then it passed, nor have I had a
recurrence of a similar experience."
Mr. Stead regards that as a "poor and paltry experience," and it may
perhaps be considered so when compared with the greater possibilities,
yet I know many students who would be very thankful to have even so
much of direct personal experience to tell. Small though it may be in
itself, it at once gives the seer a clue to the whole thing, and
clairvoyance would be a living actuality to a man who had seen even
that much in a way that it could never have been without that little
touch with the unseen world.
These pictures were much too clear to have been mere reflections of
the thought of others, and besides, the description unmistakably shows
that they were views seen through an astral telescope; so either Mr.
Stead must quite unconsciously have set a current going for himself,
or (which is much more probable) some kindly astral entity set it in
motion for him, and gave him, to while away a tedious delay, any
pictures that happened to come handy at the end of the tube.