“With my soul!”
“But first, to penetrate this barrier, the soul with which you listen must be sharpened by intense enthusiasm, purified from all earthlier desires. Not without reason have the so-styled magicians, in all lands and times, insisted on chastity and abstemious reverie as the communicants of inspiration. When thus prepared, science can be brought to aid it; the sight itself may be rendered more subtle, the nerves more acute, the spirit more alive and outward, and the element itself—the air, the space—may be made, by certain secrets of the higher chemistry, more palpable and clear. And this, too, is not magic, as the credulous call it; as I have so often said before, magic (or science that violates Nature) exists not: it is but the science by which Nature can be controlled. Now, in space there are millions of beings not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalculae unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtle, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer that clothes the spirit. Hence the Rosicrucian’s lovely phantoms of sylph and gnome. Yet, in truth, these races and tribes differ more widely, each from each, than the Calmuc from the Greek,—differ in attributes and powers. In the drop of water you see how the animalculae vary, how vast and terrible are some of those monster mites as compared with others. Equally so with the inhabitants of the atmosphere: some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven.
“He who would establish intercourse with these varying beings resembles the traveller who would penetrate into unknown lands. He is exposed to strange dangers and unconjectured terrors. That intercourse once gained, I cannot secure thee from the chances to which thy journey is exposed. I cannot direct thee to paths free from the wanderings of the deadliest foes. Thou must alone, and of thyself, face and hazard all. But if thou art so enamoured of life as to care only to live on, no matter for what ends, recruiting the nerves and veins with the alchemist’s vivifying elixir, why seek these dangers from the intermediate tribes? Because the very elixir that pours a more glorious life into the frame, so sharpens the senses that those larvae of the air become to thee audible and apparent; so that, unless trained by degrees to endure the phantoms and subdue their malice, a life thus gifted would be the most awful doom man could bring upon himself. Hence it is, that though the elixir be compounded of the simplest herbs, his frame only is prepared to receive it who has gone through the subtlest trials. Nay, some, scared and daunted into the most intolerable horror by the sights that burst upon their eyes at the first draft, have found the potion less powerful to save than the agony and travail of Nature to destroy. To the unprepared the elixir is thus but the deadliest poison. Amidst the dwellers of the threshold is one, too, surpassing in malignity and hatred all her tribe,—one whose eyes have paralyzed the bravest, and whose power increases over the spirit precisely in proportion to its fear. Does thy courage falter?”