Simple Clairvoyance: Full

We have defined this as a mere opening of etheric or astral sight,

which enables the possessor to see whatever may be present around him

on corresponding levels, but is not usually accompanied by the power

of seeing anything at a great distance or of reading either the past

or the future. It is hardly possible altogether to exclude these

latter faculties, for astral sight necessarily has considerably

greater extension
han physical, and fragmentary pictures of both past

and future are often casually visible even to clairvoyants who do not

know how to seek specially for them; but there is nevertheless a very

real distinction between such incidental glimpses and the definite

power of projection of the sight either in space or time.

We find among sensitive people all degrees of this kind of

clairvoyance, from that of the man who gets a vague impression which

hardly deserves the name of sight at all, up to the full possession of

etheric and astral vision respectively. Perhaps the simplest method

will be for us to begin by describing what would be visible in the

case of this fuller development of the power, as the cases of its

partial possession will then be seen to fall naturally into their


Let us take the etheric vision first. This consists simply, as has

already been said, in susceptibility to a far larger series of

physical vibrations than ordinary, but nevertheless its possession

brings into view a good deal to which the majority of the human race

still remains blind. Let us consider what changes its acquisition

produces in the aspect of familiar objects, animate and inanimate, and

then see to what entirely new factors it introduces us. But it must be

remembered that what I am about to describe is the result of the full

and perfectly-controlled possession of the faculty only, and that most

of the instances met with in real life will be likely to fall far

short of it in one direction or another.

The most striking change produced in the appearance of inanimate

objects by the acquisition of this faculty is that most of them become

almost transparent, owing to the difference in wave-length of some of

the vibrations to which the man has now become susceptible. He finds

himself capable of performing with the utmost ease the proverbial feat

of "seeing through a brick wall," for to his newly-acquired vision the

brick wall seems to have a consistency no greater than that of a

light mist. He therefore sees what is going on in an adjoining room

almost as though no intervening wall existed; he can describe with

accuracy the contents of a locked box, or read a sealed letter; with a

little practice he can find a given passage in a closed book. This

last feat, though perfectly easy to astral vision, presents

considerable difficulty to one using etheric sight, because of the

fact that each page has to be looked at through all those which

happen to be superimposed upon it.

It is often asked whether under these circumstances a man sees always

with this abnormal sight, or only when he wishes to do so. The answer

is that if the faculty is perfectly developed it will be entirely

under his control, and he can use that or his more ordinary vision at

will. He changes from one to the other as readily and naturally as we

now change the focus of our eyes when we look up from our book to

follow the motions of some object a mile away. It is, as it were, a

focussing of consciousness on the one or the other aspect of what is

seen; and though the man would have quite clearly in his view the

aspect upon which his attention was for the moment fixed, he would

always be vaguely conscious of the other aspect too, just as when we

focus our sight upon any object held in our hands we yet vaguely see

the opposite wall of the room as a background.

Another curious change, which comes from the possession of this sight,

is that the solid ground upon which the man walks becomes to a certain

extent transparent to him, so that he is able to see down into it to a

considerable depth, much as we can now see into fairly clear water.

This enables him to watch a creature burrowing underground, to

distinguish a vein of coal or of metal if not too far below the

surface, and so on.

The limit of etheric sight when looking through solid matter appears

to be analogous to that imposed upon us when looking through water or

mist. We cannot see beyond a certain distance, because the medium

through which we are looking is not perfectly transparent.

The appearance of animate objects is also considerably altered for the

man who has increased his visual powers to this extent. The bodies of

men and animals are for him in the main transparent, so that he can

watch the action of the various internal organs, and to some extent

diagnose some of their diseases.

The extended sight also enables him to perceive, more or less clearly,

various classes of creatures, elemental and otherwise, whose bodies

are not capable of reflecting any of the rays within the limit of the

spectrum as ordinarily seen. Among the entities so seen will be some

of the lower orders of nature-spirits--those whose bodies are composed

of the denser etheric matter. To this class belong nearly all the

fairies, gnomes, and brownies, about whom there are still so many

stories remaining among Scotch and Irish mountains and in remote

country places all over the world.

The vast kingdom of nature-spirits is in the main an astral kingdom,

but still there is a large section of it which appertains to the

etheric part of the physical plane, and this section, of course, is

much more likely to come within the ken of ordinary people than the

others. Indeed, in reading the common fairy stories one frequently

comes across distinct indications that it is with this class that we

are dealing. Any student of fairy lore will remember how often mention

is made of some mysterious ointment or drug, which when applied to a

man's eyes enables him to see the members of the fairy commonwealth

whenever he happens to meet them.

The story of such an application and its results occurs so constantly

and comes from so many different parts of the world that there must

certainly be some truth behind it, as there always is behind really

universal popular tradition. Now no such anointing of the eyes alone

could by any possibility open a man's astral vision, though certain

ointments rubbed over the whole body will very greatly assist the

astral body to leave the physical in full consciousness--a fact the

knowledge of which seems to have survived even to mediaeval times, as

will be seen from the evidence given at some of the trials for

witchcraft. But the application to the physical eye might very easily

so stimulate its sensitiveness as to make it susceptible to some of

the etheric vibrations.

The story frequently goes on to relate how when the human being who

has used this mystical ointment betrays his extended vision in some

way to a fairy, the latter strikes or stabs him in the eye, thus

depriving him not only of the etheric sight, but of that of the denser

physical plane as well. (See The Science of Fairy Tales, by E. S.

Hartland, in the "Contemporary Science" series--or indeed almost any

extensive collection of fairy stories.) If the sight acquired had been

astral, such a proceeding would have been entirely unavailing, for no

injury to the physical apparatus would affect an astral faculty; but

if the vision produced by the ointment were etheric, the destruction

of the physical eye would in most cases at once extinguish it, since

that is the mechanism by means of which it works.

Anyone possessing this sight of which we are speaking would also be

able to perceive the etheric double of man; but since this is so

nearly identical in size with the physical, it would hardly be likely

to attract his attention unless it were partially projected in trance

or under the influence of anaesthetics. After death, when it withdraws

entirely from the dense body, it would be clearly visible to him, and

he would frequently see it hovering over newly made graves as he

passed through a churchyard or cemetery. If he were to attend a

spiritualistic seance he would see the etheric matter oozing out from

the side of the medium, and could observe the various ways in which

the communicating entities make use of it.

Another fact which could hardly fail soon to thrust itself upon his

notice would be the extension of his perception of colour. He would

find himself able to see several entirely new colours, not in the

least resembling any of those included in the spectrum as we at

present know it, and therefore of course quite indescribable in any

terms at our command. And not only would he see new objects that were

wholly of these new colours, but he would also discover that

modifications had been introduced into the colour of many objects with

which he was quite familiar, according to whether they had or had not

some tinge of these new hues intermingled with the old. So that two

surfaces of colour which to ordinary eyes appeared to match perfectly

would often present distinctly different shades to his keener sight.

We have now touched upon some of the principal changes which would be

introduced into a man's world when he gained etheric sight; and it

must always be remembered that in most cases a corresponding change

would at the same time be brought about in his other senses also, so

that he would be capable of hearing, and perhaps even of feeling, more

than most of those around him. Now supposing that in addition to this

he obtained the sight of the astral plane, what further changes would

be observable?

Well, the changes would be many and great; in fact, a whole new world

would open before his eyes. Let us consider its wonders briefly in the

same order as before, and see first what difference there would be in

the appearance of inanimate objects. On this point I may begin by

quoting a recent quaint answer given in The Vahan.

"There is a distinct difference between etheric sight and astral

sight, and it is the latter which seems to correspond to the fourth


"The easiest way to understand the difference is to take an example.

If you looked at a man with both the sights in turn, you would see the

buttons at the back of his coat in both cases; only if you used

etheric sight you would see them through him, and would see the

shank-side as nearest to you, but if you looked astrally, you would

see it not only like that, but just as if you were standing behind the

man as well.

"Or if you were looking etherically at a wooden cube with writing on

all its sides, it would be as though the cube were glass, so that you

could see through it, and you would see the writing on the opposite

side all backwards, while that on the right and left sides would not

be clear to you at all unless you moved, because you would see it

edgewise. But if you looked at it astrally you would see all the sides

at once, and all the right way up, as though the whole cube had been

flattened out before you, and you would see every particle of the

inside as well--not through the others, but all flattened out. You

would be looking at it from another direction, at right angles to all

the directions that we know.

"If you look at the back of a watch etherically you see all the wheels

through it, and the face through them, but backwards; if you look at

it astrally, you see the face right way up and all the wheels lying

separately, but nothing on the top of anything else."

Here we have at once the keynote, the principal factor of the change;

the man is looking at everything from an absolutely new point of view,

entirely outside of anything that he has ever imagined before. He has

no longer the slightest difficulty in reading any page in a closed

book, because he is not now looking at it through all the other pages

before it or behind it, but is looking straight down upon it as though

it were the only page to be seen. The depth at which a vein of metal

or of coal may lie is no longer a barrier to his sight of it, because

he is not now looking through the intervening depth of earth at all.

The thickness of a wall, or the number of walls intervening between

the observer and the object, would make a great deal of difference to

the clearness of the etheric sight; they would make no difference

whatever to the astral sight, because on the astral plane they would

not intervene between the observer and the object. Of course that

sounds paradoxical and impossible, and it is quite inexplicable to a

mind not specially trained to grasp the idea; yet it is none the less

absolutely true.

This carries us straight into the middle of the much-vexed question of

the fourth dimension--a question of the deepest interest, though one

that we cannot pretend to discuss in the space at our disposal. Those

who wish to study it as it deserves are recommended to begin with Mr.

C. H. Hinton's Scientific Romances or Dr. A. T. Schofield's Another

World, and then follow on with the former author's larger work, A

New Era of Thought. Mr. Hinton not only claims to be able himself to

grasp mentally some of the simpler fourth-dimensional figures, but

also states that anyone who will take the trouble to follow out his

directions may with perseverance acquire that mental grasp likewise. I

am not certain that the power to do this is within the reach of

everyone, as he thinks, for it appears to me to require considerable

mathematical ability; but I can at any rate bear witness that the

tesseract or fourth-dimensional cube which he describes is a reality,

for it is quite a familiar figure upon the astral plane. He has now

perfected a new method of representing the several dimensions by

colours instead of by arbitrary written symbols. He states that this

will very much simplify the study, as the reader will be able to

distinguish instantly by sight any part or feature of the tesseract. A

full description of this new method, with plates, is said to be ready

for the press, and is expected to appear within a year, so that

intending students of this fascinating subject might do well to await

its publication.

I know that Madame Blavatsky, in alluding to the theory of the fourth

dimension, has expressed an opinion that it is only a clumsy way of

stating the idea of the entire permeability of matter, and that Mr. W.

T. Stead has followed along the same lines, presenting the conception

to his readers under the name of throughth. Careful, oft-repeated

and detailed investigation does, however, seem to show quite

conclusively that this explanation does not cover all the facts. It is

a perfect description of etheric vision, but the further and quite

different idea of the fourth dimension as expounded by Mr. Hinton is

the only one which gives any kind of explanation down here of the

constantly-observed facts of astral vision. I would therefore venture

deferentially to suggest that when Madame Blavatsky wrote as she did,

she had in mind etheric vision and not astral, and that the extreme

applicability of the phrase to this other and higher faculty, of which

she was not at the moment thinking, did not occur to her.

The possession of this extraordinary and scarcely expressible power,

then, must always be borne in mind through all that follows. It lays

every point in the interior of every solid body absolutely open to the

gaze of the seer, just as every point in the interior of a circle lies

open to the gaze of a man looking down upon it.

But even this is by no means all that it gives to its possessor. He

sees not only the inside as well as the outside of every object, but

also its astral counterpart. Every atom and molecule of physical

matter has its corresponding astral atoms and molecules, and the mass

which is built up out of these is clearly visible to our clairvoyant.

Usually the astral of any object projects somewhat beyond the physical

part of it, and thus metals, stones and other things are seen

surrounded by an astral aura.

It will be seen at once that even in the study of inorganic matter a

man gains immensely by the acquisition of this vision. Not only does

he see the astral part of the object at which he looks, which before

was wholly hidden from him; not only does he see much more of its

physical constitution than he did before, but even what was visible

to him before is now seen much more clearly and truly. A moment's

consideration will show that his new vision approximates much more

closely to true perception than does physical sight. For example, if

he looks astrally at a glass cube, its sides will all appear equal, as

we know they really are, whereas on the physical plane he sees the

further side in perspective--that is, it appears smaller than the

nearer side, which is, of course, a mere allusion due to his physical


When we come to consider the additional facilities which it offers in

the observation of animate objects we see still more clearly the

advantages of the astral vision. It exhibits to the clairvoyant the

aura of plants and animals, and thus in the case of the latter their

desires and emotions, and whatever thoughts they may have, are all

plainly shown before his eyes.

But it is in dealing with human beings that he will most appreciate

the value of this faculty, for he will often be able to help them far

more effectually when he guides himself by the information which it

gives him.

He will be able to see the aura as far up as the astral body, and

though that leaves all the higher part of a man still hidden from his

gaze, he will nevertheless find it possible by careful observation to

learn a good deal about the higher part from what is within his

reach. His capacity of examining the etheric double will give him

considerable advantage in locating and classifying any defects or

diseases of the nervous system, while from the appearance of the

astral body he will be at once aware of all the emotions, passions,

desires and tendencies of the man before him, and even of very many of

his thoughts also.

As he looks at a person he will see him surrounded by the luminous

mist of the astral aura, flashing with all sorts of brilliant colours,

and constantly changing in hue and brilliancy with every variation of

the person's thoughts and feelings. He will see this aura flooded with

the beautiful rose-colour of pure affection, the rich blue of

devotional feeling, the hard, dull brown of selfishness, the deep

scarlet of anger, the horrible lurid red of sensuality, the livid grey

of fear, the black clouds of hatred and malice, or any of the other

hundredfold indications so easily to be read in it by a practised eye;

and thus it will be impossible for any persons to conceal from him the

real state of their feelings on any subject.

These varied indications of the aura are of themselves a study of very

deep interest, but I have no space to deal with them in detail here. A

much fuller account of them, together with a large number of coloured

illustrations, will be found in my work on the subject Man Visible

and Invisible.

Not only does the astral aura show him the temporary result of the

emotion passing through it at the moment, but it also gives him, by

the arrangement and proportion of its colours when in a condition of

comparative rest, a clue to the general disposition and character of

its owner. For the astral body is the expression of as much of the man

as can be manifested on that plane, so that from what is seen in it

much more which belongs to higher planes may be inferred with

considerable certainty.

In this judgment of character our clairvoyant will be much helped by

so much of the person's thought as expresses itself on the astral

plane, and consequently comes within his purview. The true home of

thought is on the mental plane, and all thought first manifests itself

there as a vibration of the mind-body. But if it be in any way a

selfish thought, or if it be connected in any way with an emotion or a

desire, it immediately descends into the astral plane, and takes to

itself a visible form of astral matter.

In the case of the majority of men almost all thought would fall under

one or other of these heads, so that practically the whole of their

personality would lie clearly before our friend's astral vision, since

their astral bodies and the thought-forms constantly radiating from

them would be to him as an open book in which their characteristics

were writ so largely that he who ran might read. Anyone wishing to

gain some idea as to how the thought-forms present themselves to

clairvoyant vision may satisfy themselves to some extent by examining

the illustrations accompanying Mrs. Besant's valuable article on the

subject in Lucifer for September 1896.

We have seen something of the alteration in the appearance of both

animate and inanimate objects when viewed by one possessed of full

clairvoyant sight as far as the astral plane is concerned; let us now

consider what entirely new objects he will see. He will be conscious

of a far greater fulness in nature in many directions, but chiefly his

attention will be attracted by the living denizens of this new world.

No detailed account of them can be attempted within the space at our

disposal; for that the reader is referred to No. V. of the

Theosophical Manuals. Here we can do no more than barely enumerate a

few classes only of the vast hosts of astral inhabitants.

He will be impressed by the protean forms of the ceaseless tide of

elemental essence, ever swirling around him, menacing often, yet

always retiring before a determined effort of the will; he will marvel

at the enormous army of entities temporarily called out of this ocean

into separate existence by the thoughts and wishes of man, whether

good or evil. He will watch the manifold tribes of the nature-spirits

at their work or at their play; he will sometimes be able to study

with ever-increasing delight the magnificent evolution of some of the

lower orders of the glorious kingdom of the devas, which corresponds

approximately to the angelic host of Christian terminology.

But perhaps of even keener interest to him than any of these will be

the human denizens of the astral world, and he will find them

divisible into two great classes--those whom we call the living, and

those others, most of them infinitely more alive, whom we so foolishly

misname the dead. Among the former he will find here and there one

wide awake and fully conscious, perhaps sent to bring him some

message, or examining him keenly to see what progress he is making;

while the majority of his neighbours, when away from their physical

bodies during sleep, will drift idly by, so wrapped up in their own

cogitations as to be practically unconscious of what is going on

around them.

Among the great host of the recently dead he will find all degrees of

consciousness and intelligence, and all shades of character--for

death, which seems to our limited vision so absolute a change, in

reality alters nothing of the man himself. On the day after his death

he is precisely the same man as he was the day before it, with the

same disposition, the same qualities, the same virtues and vices, save

only that he has cast aside his physical body; but the loss of that no

more makes him in any way a different man than would the removal of an

overcoat. So among the dead our student will find men intelligent and

stupid, kind-hearted and morose, serious and frivolous,

spiritually-minded and sensually-minded, just as among the living.

Since he can not only see the dead, but speak with them, he can often

be of very great use to them, and give them information and guidance

which is of the utmost value to them. Many of them are in a condition

of great surprise and perplexity, and sometimes even of acute

distress, because they find the facts of the next world so unlike the

childish legends which are all that popular religion in the West has

to offer with reference to this transcendently important subject; and

therefore a man who understands this new world and can explain matters

is distinctly a friend in need.

In many other ways a man who fully possesses this faculty may be of

use to the living as well as to the dead; but of this side of the

subject I have already written in my little book on Invisible

Helpers. In addition to astral entities he will see astral

corpses--shades and shells in all stages of decay; but these need only

be just mentioned here, as the reader desiring a further account of

them will find it in our third and fifth manuals.

Another wonderful result which the full enjoyment of astral

clairvoyance brings to a man is that he has no longer any break in

consciousness. When he lies down at night he leaves his physical body

to the rest which it requires, while he goes about his business in

the far more comfortable astral vehicle. In the morning he returns to

and re-enters his physical body, but without any loss of consciousness

or memory between the two states, and thus he is able to live, as it

were, a double life which yet is one, and to be usefully employed

during the whole of it, instead of losing one-third of his existence

in blank unconsciousness.

Another strange power of which he may find himself in possession

(though its full control belongs rather to the still higher devachanic

faculty), is that of magnifying at will the minutest physical or

astral particle to any desired size, as though by a microscope--though

no microscope ever made or ever likely to be made possesses even a

thousandth part of this psychic magnifying power. By its means the

hypothetical molecule and atom postulated by science become visible

and living realities to the occult student, and on this closer

examination he finds them to be much more complex in their structure

than the scientific man has yet realised them to be. It also enables

him to follow with the closest attention and the most lively interest

all kinds of electrical, magnetic, and other etheric action; and when

some of the specialists in these branches of science are able to

develop the power to see those things whereof they write so facilely,

some very wonderful and beautiful revelations may be expected.

This is one of the siddhis or powers described in Oriental books as

accruing to the man who devotes himself to spiritual development,

though the name under which it is there mentioned might not be

immediately recognizable. It is referred to as "the power of making

oneself large or small at will," and the reason of a description which

appears so oddly to reverse the fact is that in reality the method by

which this feat is performed is precisely that indicated in these

ancient books. It is by the use of temporary visual machinery of

inconceivable minuteness that the world of the infinitely little is so

clearly seen; and in the same way (or rather in the opposite way) it

is by temporarily enormously increasing the size of the machinery used

that it becomes possible to increase the breadth of one's view--in the

physical sense as well as, let us hope, in the moral--far beyond

anything that science has ever dreamt of as possible for man. So that

the alteration in size is really in the vehicle of the student's

consciousness, and not in anything outside of himself; and the old

Oriental book has, after all, put the case more accurately than we.

Psychometry and second-sight in excelsis would also be among the

faculties which our friend would find at his command; but those will

be more fitly dealt with under a later heading, since in almost all

their manifestations they involve clairvoyance either in space or in


I have now indicated, though only in the roughest outlines, what a

trained student, possessed of full astral vision, would see in the

immensely wider world to which that vision introduced him; but I have

said nothing of the stupendous change in his mental attitude which

comes from the experiential certainty as to the existence of the soul,

its survival after death, the action of the law of karma, and other

points of equally paramount importance. The difference between even

the profoundest intellectual conviction and the precise knowledge

gained by direct personal experience must be felt in order to be