To understand mediumship it is necessary to know something of man's several bodies. In addition to the dense, visible instrument he uses here in this world for material purposes, man has also a vital body, composed of ether, a desire or emotional body, and a mind. The individualized Spirit or Ego lives in and uses these interpenetrating vehicles to gather experience in the school of life.
In the waking state, the dense body and the vital body (the latter interpenetrating and extending out about 1 1/2 inches beyond the former) are surrounded and interpenetrated by the egg-shaped cloud comprising the desire body and the mind. These vehicles are concentric, and it is the interpolation of one into the other, so that the sense centers in one are in proper alignment with the sense centers of the other, which enables the Ego to manipulate the complex organism and perform in an ordered manner the life processes which we call reason, speech and action.
When the dense body goes to sleep, there is a separation of the vehicles. The Ego and the mind, clothed in the desire body, draw out from the vital body and the dense body, the two later remaining on the bed, while the higher vehicles hover above or near the sleeping body, connected to it by the silver cord. The process of restoration begins shortly afterward. In normal cases, the desire body (having been harmonized in the Desire World) pumps rhythmic energy into the vital body, and that in turn starts to work upon the dense body, eliminating the products of decay, principally by means of the sympathetic nervous system. The result is that the dense body is restored and overflowing with life when the desire body, mind, and Ego re enter it in the morning and cause it to awaken.
At death the same separation between the bodies takes place as in sleep. The so-called dead have Ego, mind, and desire body, and are often conscious for some time after death of the material world they have left. Some cling to the earth life and cannot bring their minds to learn the new lessons. We call them "earthbound Spirits." They cannot function in the visible world without a body, however, and so they make use of the living whose dense and vital bodies are loosely connected. All Spirits are not confined with equal closeness to the prison of the dense body. Those who are most closely bound are the rank materialists; those who are not so tightly bound are the "impressonists," capable of answering in some measure to spiritual vibrations. Persons of positive character who are able to respond to these vibrations, if they develop, do so by their own wills, and become trained occultists. Those of weak will can develop only by the aid of others, and in a negative way. They are the prey of earthbound Spirits who constitute themselves "spirit guides" and develop their victims as "trance mediums," or if the connection between the victim's dense and vital bodies be particularly lax, into materializing mediums.
A medium is a negative or involuntary clairvoyant, having the dense and vital bodies loosely connected and under the control of a Spirit from the Desire World. He or she corresponds to the victim of a hypnotist in the Physical World.
In the case of a trance medium all her experiences take place while the physical body is in a trance. It is the Ego clothed in the mind and desire body which leaves the physical body behind, and the same separation takes place then as in dreamless sleep, with the difference, however, that the physical body is not left tenantless upon the bed. The spirit control usually enters the physical body of the medium, taking possession and using it according to his pleasure often to the great detriment of the medium. For instance, when such a spirit control has been a drunkard or libertine during earth life, it will often use the medium's body to gratify its craving for liquor, or its base sensual instincts. We cannot too strongly impress upon people that this physical body is our most valuable instrument and that it is very wrong for anyone to abandon it to the mercy of either a hypnotist or a Spirit control.
In regard to earthbound Spirits, it should be remembered that they are in every respect like the hypnotists, except that they are invisible to the victims and have more power over them, because they are looked up to as "higher beings," "angels," devoid of evil, and unselfishly aiming to diffuse happiness or wisdom. As a matter of fact, there is no transforming power in death. The sinner does not become a saint nor the ignoramus a Solomon because of death, and it is a pathetic sight to the trained clairvoyant to see the imposition practiced by their unprincipled spirit controls upon their unsuspecting victims, who are so thoroughly unsophisticated that they fail to distinguish the true character of the imposters and accept their inane, goody-goody phrases as sublime wisdom. They have done some good in proving the reality of life after death, but much harm to mediums.
It is to be expected that Spirits of a high ethical nature or great spiritual attainment do not usually control a medium. Rather it is the earthbound and low Spirits who obtain a control over mediumistic persons, and when in possession of the body they may use it to gratify their low passions for drink and sex. Thus they cause a disturbance to the system and a deterioration of the instrument.
In the case of the materializing medium, the materializing Spirit entrances the victim and then draws the ether of the vital body out through the spleen, for as has been stated, the difference between the materializing medium and the ordinary person is the fact that the connection between the vital body and the dense body is exceedingly lax, so that it is possible to withdraw this vital body to a very great extent. The vital body is the vehicle whereby the solar currents which give us vitality are specialized. Deprived of the vitalizing principle, the body of the medium at the time of materialization sometimes shrinks to almost one-half its usual size; the flesh becomes flabby and the spark of life burns very low. When the seance is over and the vital body replaced, the medium is awakened to normal consciousness. He then experiences a feeling of the most terrible exhaustion and sometimes, unfortunately, resorts to drink to revive the vital forces. In that case of course, the health will soon suffer and the medium will become a total wreck.
Unfortunately, the great majority of mediums do not realize that they are in danger. They are particularly unaware of the enormous danger which threatens them after death. The desire body may then be appropriated by the spirit control, as mentioned previously. If they try to stop the influence of the spirit control while still here in the body they find that the entity has an exceedingly strong hold upon them, a control it is very difficult to break, and they should realize that naturally when death brings them into the same world with these controls, the danger will be still greater.
Cases have been known where mediums balked and tried to escape from the toils of the spirit control, but they failed to break the strong hold of the entity. They were helpless. Mediums have told how they were almost irresistibly compelled to commit suicide and murder; how they begged and pleaded with the controls to leave them alone, but without avail. Cases are also known where spirit controls have mercilessly dragged their victims out of bed in the middle of the night against their will and forced them to listen to their importunities. Only seldom does one hear that they show mercy.
Thus it will be seen that mediumship, once entered into, is not usually a matter of choice with the mediums; they lose the power to shut out spirit controls. While they do the bidding of their task masters and are docile, they may not feel the bit; but let one of them try to balk, and he or she will soon find that the spirit control has both bit and spur and is merciless in the use of them.
The modus operandi of the invisible manipulator is simply to push the higher vehicles out of the lower bodies of the unresisting medium, step in itself and take control. When he leaves he also takes part of the medium's vital body to use as a key or lever next time. In some cases he is not satisfied to borrow a body, but steals one and keeps the owner out permanently. We see the same body, but there is another Ego within, which shows different habits and tastes altogether. This is called obsession, and can be detected by the fact that the iris neither responds to light nor distance by contraction or expansion. Only the owner can manipulate the eye. Hence the eyes of mediums under control are always closed or have a glassy stare.
Obviously, the lesson to be learned from a knowledge of these matters is that we must remain our own masters and never under any pretext allow ourselves to be hypnotized or controlled by an outside agency. Neither should we take part even as spectators of seances and hypnotic demonstrations, for the negative attitude there lays one liable to influence or obsession. Self-mastery is our goal, and not mastery over others.