The Platonist, January, 1884
The name Psychometry has been given to a faculty which, it is claimed, inheres in about seven out of every ten persons. but it seems to me to be a designation at once, inadequate and inaccurate, because it does not express to the mind all that is intended to be conveyed.
Expressed in many words, the power to psychometrise means: the power to bring up before the mental or spiritual eye, a panoramic view of all that has occurred to the object examined. The use of the word “psychometry” came about because it was laid down by Professors Buchanan and Denton, that by the power one measured the soul of the thing.
If the word “soul” means the innermost spiritual part of the thing measured, it will here be inadequate and incorrect; while, if it be held to mean the mere outside or accidental material part or attribute of the object, then it is perverted from its proper and intended use. The phenomena taken into consideration in the pursuit of psychometry, belong almost entirely to accidental or exterior impressions, which, while they percolate or permeate the whole mass of the object examined, never partake of its constitution or properties. At the same time, in psychometrising an object, the faculty under consideration takes account of the spirit or soul of the object. So that we see that the designation, soul-measuring, is not only inaccurate but also redundant. Some other word ought to be selected to express what we intend when we use the word “psychometry.”
The Science of today does not recognize psychometry, because it does not allow that the human soul or mind has the power to produce effects which it admits can be produced by the use of chemicals or electricity. It is admitted that a lasting and reproduceable impression can be made upon a piece of smooth steel by simply placing on it another object, such as a penny, and that the washed-out images on certain plates can be brought to light again by electricity or chemicals. But they will not admit that a man can, by simply holding the same plates in his hand or to his forehead, take off and bring up clearly before his mind’s eye the same old and obliterated impressions. What they do admit, however, proves that those impressions are really lasting, and gives us ground for hoping that one day they will admit all the rest.
If one will erect a paper screen, say five feet square, and stand behind it, he will find, of course, that the view in front is obstructed completely. But make a pin-hole at the upper right-hand corner and place the eye thereat. What follows? He sees the objects which were hitherto concealed. Make another pin-hole at the opposite corner, five feet away, and the same objects or scene can be observed in their entirety. This can, of course, be repeated at all parts of the screen. If at the time that he is looking at the scene in front through the pin-hole at the upper right-hand corner, a camera-lens is put through a hole in the center of the screen, a photograph of all that he is looking at through the pin-hole will be taken by the camera.
This proves, conclusively, that the image of the object or scene in part is impressed or thrown against every part of the screen; and that the minutest point, or rather upon the very smallest piece of the screen, will be found a picture in its entirety of the whole object or scene that is before it, as well as a complete picture thrown over the whole body of the screen.
An ancient familiar illustration will exemplify my meaning. If one hold a drop of quicksilver on a plate, the face is reflected from it. If the drop be scattered into a thousand smaller drops, each one reflects the face again. Or, more easily understood yet: If five men stand affront of one man ten feet away, each pair of eyes of the five sees the one man; proving that there exists on each separate retina a separate and complete image of the one object.
Theosophists and occultists from the earliest times have held that every object in the world receives and keeps all impressions, not only of all objects that stand before it, but also of all that happens before it; that these impressions are indelible and can at any time be taken off by man’s nervous system and from that reported to the mind; and, therefore, that if we possess a piece of stone from the Roman Forum, we can reproduce to the mind, as clearly as a picture, all that happened in the Forum.
The use of the screen-illustration and our insistence upon it, was to show that no ridiculous or impossible claim is made when we say that the small fragment from the Forum will give a complete picture and not a fragmental one.
I received from a friend, in the year 1882, a piece of the linen wrapping of an Egyptian ibis found on the breast of a mummy. I handed it, wrapped up in tissue-paper, to a friend who did not know what, if anything, was in the paper. He put it to his forehead and soon began to describe Egyptian scenery; then an ancient city; from that he went on to describe a man in Egyptian clothes sailing on a river; then that this man went ashore into a grove where he killed a bird; then that the bird looked like pictures of an ibis, and ended by describing the man as returning with the bird to the city, the description of which tallied with the picture and description of ancient Egyptian cities.
I leave this coincidence, as science designates it, with those who can appreciate it at its true value.
When science begins to admit the existence in man of what the Christians call spirit, but which some people know to be matter in a finely-divided state, then will psychometry be studied as it should be, and incalculable aid and dazzling light be thrown upon archaeological and ethnological research.
But is there any hope for Science?