The Path – October 1892



Some of the commands of Moses — speaking for Jehovah — given to the Jews on the subject of spiritualism are not without interest. As they enter into no description of the various phases included in the regulations, it is certain that the whole subject was then so familiar it could be understood as soon as referred to without any explanation. And if Moses and his people ever were really in Egypt in bondage or as inhabitants of the land of Goshen, they could not have been there without learning many of the spiritualistic and necromantic practices of the Egyptians. In Exodus ch. 22, v. 18, he directs "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". The witch spoken of was a different person from the others who had familiars and the like; they were not destroyed. But a witch must have been a malevolent practitioner of occult arts either for money or for mere malice. In Deuteronomy the lawgiver, referring to the land the people were soon to occupy, said: "There shall not be found among you anyone a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer." Hence these varieties of occult practices are mentioned and prohibited. There is not much doubt that the very powerful spirit calling himself "Jehovah" issued these directions not only to protect the people in general, but also to preclude the possibility of any other equally powerful tribal God setting up communication with the Jews and perhaps creating confusion in the plans of Jehovah.

The "consulters with familiar spirits" were those who had in one way or another — either by training or by accident of birth — opened up intercourse with some powerful nature-spirits of either the fire or air element, from which information on various matters was obtainable. These elementals are difficult to reach, they are sometimes friendly, at others unfriendly, to man. But they have a knowledge peculiar to themselves, and can use the inner senses of man for the purpose of getting him answers beyond his power to acquire in the ordinary manner. This is done somewhat in the way the modern hypnotiser awakes the inner person, to some degree disengaged from the outer one, and shows that the hidden memory and perceptive powers have a much wider range than the healthy person usually exhibits. These familiar spirits were well known to the ancients, and Moses speaks of them so simply that it is very evident it was a matter of history at that period and not a new development. The same kind of "familiar" is also mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (1). Paul and his companions came to Macedonia — if the confused statements as to places are to be relied on — and there "It came to pass as we went to prayer a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her Masters much gain by soothsaying." Paul drove the possessing spirit out of the woman, thus depriving her masters of gain and probably herself of support. This was not a mere case of ordinary mediumship where the astral garments of some departed soul had possession of the girl, but was a genuine elemental of the divining kind which Paul could drive out because of the power of his human will.

The "familiar" is not our higher nature giving us useful information, but is always an entity existing outside of and not belonging to the human plane. They are known of to day in the East, and communication with them is regarded there as dangerous. This danger arises from the fact that "familiar spirits" are devoid of conscience, being of a kingdom in nature which is yet below the human stage and therefore not having Manas and the spiritual principle. They act automatically, yet by the uniting to them of the reason and other powers of the person whom they afflict there is a semblance of reason, judgment, and intelligence. But this appearance of those qualities is equally present in the modern phonograph, which is certainly devoid of them in fact. Being of such a nature, it is natural that the influence exerted by them upon the human being is directed only to our lower nature to the exclusion of the higher, and thus in time the moral qualities are paralyzed. Other results ensue in certain cases where what might be styled "astral dynamite" is liberated through the disturbance in the human being's nature as well as in the other plane, and then destruction arrives for others as well as for the person who has engaged in this intercourse. For these reasons the wise all through the past have discouraged dealing with a familiar spirit.

The next class mentioned by Moses is the wizard, who was on a grade higher than the first and corresponding to the witch. The failure to mention wizards in the verse directing the death of a witch may mean that witches were more common than wizards, just as to-day the "voudoo women" are far more plentiful than "voudoo men".

The last spoken of, and called an abomination, is the necromancer. This one corresponds exactly to any modern spiritualist who calls upon the dead through a medium, thus galvanizing the astral corpse which ought to be left in quietness to dissipate altogether. Moses received his education in Egypt and Midian as a priest of the highest order. In those days that meant a great deal. It meant that he was fully acquainted with the true psychology of man and could see where any danger lurked for the dabbler in these matters. It is not of the slightest consequence whether there ever existed such a man as Moses; he may be a mere name, an imaginary person to whom these books are ascribed; but the regulations and prohibitions and occult lore included in what he did and said make up an ancient record of great value. When he prohibited necromancy he only followed the time-honored rules which vast experience of many nations before he was born had proved to be right. An ancient instance of necromancy was given in the first article from, the history of King Saul.

I propose therefore to call what is now miscalled spiritualism by another name, and that is necromancy. This is the worship of the dead. It has put itself in the position of being so designated, and the title is neither an invention nor a perversion. The journals supported by those who practice it and the books written by some of its best advocates have declared year after year that the dead were present — as spirits — at seances; the mediums have said they were under the control of dead white men and women, long dead red Indians, or babies, as the case might be; and at the time when materializing seances were common the ancient dead or the newly dead have been made to appear, as in the case of Samuel to Saul, before the eyes of the sitters, and then, as the latter looked on in astonishment, the apparition has faded from sight. Nor has this been confined to the ordinary unscientific masses. Men of science have practiced it. Prof. Crookes certified that in his presence the "Katie King spook" materialized so strongly as to give as much evidence of density of flesh and weight of body as any living person. It is therefore necromancy pure and simple, and the next question to be determined is whether, as said by Moses, it is an abomination. If it leads to nought but good; if it proves itself to be communication with spirit — the word being used in its highest sense; if it gives no evidence of a debasing effect; if it brings from the world of spirit where the spiritualist declares all knowledge exists, that which is for the enlargement of human knowledge and advancement of civilization; if it has added to our information about the complex nature of man as a psychological being; if it has given either a new code of ethics or a substantial, logical, and scientific basis for the ethics declared by Buddha and Jesus, then it is not an abomination although still necromancy.

For forty years or more in Europe and America there has been a distinct cultivation of this necromancy, a time long enough to show good intellectual results by any two men in other departments. What does the history of these years give us? It presents only a morbid sort of wonder-seeking and a barren waste of undigested phenomena, the latter as unexplained today by "spirits" or spiritualists as they were when they took place. Such is the general statement of the outcome of those forty years. Before going further into the subject as outlined above, I will close this paper by referring to a first prime defect of the modern necromancy, the defect and taint of money-getting on the part of mediums and those who consult with them.

There was formed not ten years ago in Chicago and New York a syndicate to work some silver mines under the advice of the "spirits". A medium in each city was consulted and paid a pittance for the sittings. The controlling spook directed the investments and many of the operations. Shares were issued, sold, and bought. The familiar result of the enterprise coming to nought but loss for the investors has here no great bearing, though under another head it is important. But before the concluding crash there was a certain amount made by sales and purchases. Very little was paid to the poor medium, and it is to be doubted if any more than the regular price per day would have been paid even had the golden promises of the "spirits" been fully realized. All this has been repeated dozens of times in other instances.

There have been a few isolated cases of a so-called medium's giving in relation to business a long course of directions which came to a successful conclusion. One of these related to operations in the stock market in New York. But they were all cases of "consulting a familiar", and not at all the same as the work of an ordinary medium. If they were the same as the latter, then we should expect to find such successes common, whereas the opposite is the fact in the history of mediums. The extent to which even at this day mediumship is devoted to giving assumed rise and fall of railroad stocks and the grain market in New York and Chicago at the request of brokers in those cities would surprise those who think they are well acquainted with these gentlemen.

This is the great curse of the American cult called spiritualistic, and until it is wholly removed, no matter at what individual cost, we shall not see the advent of the true spiritualism. St. Paul was right when he dispossessed the girl in Macedonia of her familiar, even if thereby she lost her employment and her masters their gains. If spiritualists will not eliminate the money element from their investigations, it would be well if some St. Paul should arise and with one wave of his hand deprive all public mediums in the land of the power to see visions, hear from dead or living, or otherwise pursue their practises. The small amount of individual suffering which might ensue would be more than compensated for by the wide immediate as well as future benefit.


1. Acts, ch. 16. (return to text)

The Path