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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online
PART II. THE THOUGHT BODY, OR THE DOUBLE.
Neither Mrs. nor Miss C. have had any other hallucinations, and Mrs. C. is strongly sceptical. She does not deny the accuracy of the above statement, but scouts the theory of a Thought Body, or of any supernatural or occult explanation. On hearing Mrs. C.'s evidence I asked my hostess whether she was conscious of haunting her guest in this way. "I knew nothing about it," she replied; "all that I know was that I had been much troubled about her and was anxious to help her. I went into a very heavy, deep sleep; but until next morning, when I heard of it from Mrs. C. I had no idea that my double had left my room." I said, "This power is rather gruesome, for you might take to haunting me." "I do not think so, unless there was something to be gained which could not be otherwise secured, some benefit to be conferred upon you." "That is to say, if I were in trouble or dangerously ill, and you were anxious about me, your double might come and attend my sick-bed." "That is quite possible," she said imperturbably. "Well," said I, "when are you coming to be photographed?" "Not for many months yet," she replied, with a laugh. "For the Thought Body to leave its corporeal tenement it needs a considerable concentration of thought, and an absence of all disturbing conditions or absorbing preoccupations at the time. I see no reason why I should not be photographed when the circumstances are propitious. I shall be very glad to furnish you with that evidence of the reality of the Thought Body, but such things cannot be fixed up to order."
This, indeed, was a ghost to some purpose--a ghost free from all the weird associations of death and the grave--a healthy, utilisable ghost, and a ghost, above all, which wanted to be photographed. It seemed too good to be true. Yet how strange it was! Here we have just been discussing whether or not we have each of us two souls, and, behold! my good hostess tells me quite calmly that it is beyond all doubt that we have two bodies.
_Three Other Aerial Wanderers._
A short time after hearing from my hostess this incredible account of her aerial journeyings, I received first hand from three other ladies statements that they had also enjoyed this faculty of bodily duplication. All four ladies are between twenty and forty years of age. Three of them are married. The first says she has almost complete control over her movements, but for the most part her phantasmal envelope is invisible to those whom she visits.
This, it may be said, is mere conscious clairvoyance, in which the faculty of sight was accompanied by the consciousness of bodily presence, although it is invisible to other eyes. It is, besides, purely subjective and therefore beside the mark. Still, it is interesting as embodying the impressions of a mind, presumably sane, as to the experiences through which it has consciously passed. On the same ground I may refer to the experience of Miss X., the second lady referred to, who, when lying, as it was believed, at the point of death, declares that she was quite conscious of coming out of her body and looking at it as it lay in the bed. In all the cases I have yet mentioned the departure of the phantasmal body is accompanied by a state of trance on the part of the material body. There is not dual consciousness, but only a dual body, the consciousness being confined to the immaterial body.
It is otherwise with the experience of the fourth wanderer in my text. Mrs. Wedgwood, the daughter-in-law of Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood, the well-known philologist, who was Charles Darwin's cousin, declares that she had once a very extraordinary experience. She was lying on a couch in an upper room one wintry morning at Shorncliffe, when she felt her Thought Body leave her and, passing through the window, alight on the snowy ground. She was distinctly conscious both in her material body and in its immaterial counterpart. She lay on the couch watching the movements of the second self, which at the same moment felt the snow cold under its feet. The second self met a labourer and spoke to him. He replied as if somewhat scared. The second self walked down the road and entered an officer's hut, which was standing empty. She noted the number of guns. There were a score or more of all kinds in all manner of places; remarked upon the quaint looking-glass; took a mental inventory of the furniture; and then, coming out as she went in, she regained her material body, which all the while lay perfectly conscious on the couch. Then, when the two selves were reunited, she went down to breakfast, and described where she had been. "Bless me," said an officer, who was one of the party, "if you have not been in Major ----'s hut. You have described it exactly, especially the guns, which he has a perfect mania for collecting."