The Making of Religion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about The Making of Religion.

[Footnote 19:  The letters attesting each of these experiments are in my possession.  The real names are in no case given in this account, by my own desire, but (with permission of the persona concerned) can be communicated privately.]

[Footnote 20:  The faculty of seeing ‘fancy pictures’ in the glass is far from uncommon.  I have only met with three other persons besides Miss Angus, two of them men, who had any success in ‘telepathic’ crystal-gazing.  In correcting ‘revises’ (March 16), I leant that the brother of Mr. Pembroke (p. 105) wrote from Cairo on January 27.  The ‘scry’ of January 23 represented his ship in the Suez Canal.  He was, as his letter shows, in quarantine at Suez, at Moses’s Wells, from January 25 to January 26.  Major Hamilton (pp. 109, 110), on the other hand, left Bombay, indeed, but not by sea, as in the crystal-picture.  See Appendix C. Mr. Starr, an American critic, adds Cherokees, Aztecs, and Tonkaways to the ranks of crystal gazers.]

VI

ANTHROPOLOGY AND HALLUCINATIONS

We have been examining cases, savage or civilised, in which knowledge is believed to be acquired through no known channel of sense.  All such instances among savages, whether of the nature of clairvoyance simple, or by aid of gazing in a smooth surface, or in dreams, or in trance, or through second sight, would confirm if they did not originate the belief in the separable soul.  The soul, if it is to visit distant places and collect information, must leave the body, it would be argued, and must so far be capable of leading an independent life.  Perhaps we ought next to study cases of ‘possession,’ when knowledge is supposed to be conveyed by an alien soul, ghost, spirit, or god, taking up its abode in a man, and speaking out of his lips.  But it seems better first to consider the alleged super-normal phenomena which may have led the savage reasoner to believe that he was not the only owner of a separable soul:  that other people were equally gifted.

The sense, as of separation, which a savage dreamer or seer would feel after a dream or vision in which he visited remote places, would satisfy him that his soul, at least, was volatile.  But some experience of what he would take to be visits from the spirits of others, would be needed before he recognised that other men, as well as he, had the faculty of sending their souls a journeying.

Now, ordinary dreams, in which the dreamer seemed to see persons who were really remote; would supply to the savage reasoner a certain amount of affirmative evidence.  It is part of Mr. Tylor’s contention that savages (like some children) are subject to the difficulty which most of us may have occasionally felt in deciding ’Did this really happen, or did I dream it?’ Thus, ordinary dreams would offer to the early thinker some evidence that other men’s souls could visit his, as he believes that his can visit them.

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The Making of Religion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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