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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online
PART II. THE THOUGHT BODY, OR THE DOUBLE.
Here the immaterial body was not only visible but audible, and that not merely to the casual passer-by, but also to the material body which had for the moment parted with one of its vital constituents without losing consciousness.
It must, of course, be admitted that, with the exception of the statement by my two friends as to the apparition of Mrs. M.'s immaterial body, none of the other statements can pretend to the slightest evidential value. They may be worth as much as the confessions of the witches who swore they were dancing with Satan while their husbands held their material bodies clasped in their arms; but any explanation of subjective hallucination or of downright lying would be preferred by the majority of people to the acceptance of the simple accuracy of these statements. The phenomenon of the aerial flight is, however, not unfamiliar to those who are interested in this subject.
_Mrs. Besant's Theory._
I asked Mrs. Besant whether she thought my hostess was romancing, and whether my friend had not been the victim of some illusion. "Oh, no," said Mrs. Besant cheerfully. "There is nothing improbable about it. Very possibly she has this faculty. It is not so uncommon as you think. But its exercise is rather dangerous, and I hope she is well instructed." "How?" I asked. "Oh," Mrs. Besant replied, "it is all right if she knows what she is about, but it is just as dangerous to go waltzing about on the astral plane as it is for a girl to go skylarking down a dark slum when roughs are about. Elementals, with the desire to live, greedily appropriating the vitality and the passions of men, are not the pleasantest companions. Nor can other astrals of the dead, who have met with sudden or violent ends, and whose passions are unslaked, be regarded as desirable acquaintances. If she knows what she is about, well and good. But otherwise she is like a child playing with dynamite."
"But what is an astral body?"
Mrs. Besant replied, "There are several astrals, each with its own characteristics. The lowest astral body taken in itself is without conscience, will, or intelligence. It exists as a mere shadowy phantasm only as long as the material body lasts." "Then the mummies in the Museum?" "No doubt a clairvoyant could see their astrals keeping their silent watch by the dead. As the body decays so the astral fades away." "But that implies the possibility of a decaying ghost?" "Certainly. An old friend of mine, a lady who bears a well-known name, was once haunted for months by an astral. She was a strong-minded girl, and she didn't worry. But it was rather ghastly when the astral began to decay. As the corpse decomposed the astral shrank, until at last, to her great relief, it entirely disappeared."
Mrs. Besant mentioned the name of the lady, who is well known to many of my readers, and one of the last to be suspected of such haunting.