Electroscope and “Astral Doubles”
Theosophist, June, 1883
Some Australian and American papers are very much exercised with a new invention made by Dr. Gnedra (?) of Victoria (Australia), called the Electroscope. The extraordinary achievements of the telephone ought to have, by this time, familiarized people with the possibility of every miraculous-like discovery and invention. Nevertheless, this new appliance of electricity, if it proves true to its promises, as—unless the whole story is a sale,—it has already proved itself—will be reckoned as one among the many, if not the most, marvellous inventions of the age. It is claimed to be possible to convey, by means of electricity, vibrations of light to not only hold converse with one’s most distant friends—as already done by means of the telephone—but actually to see them. We are told by the R. P. Journal, which is responsible for the story, that:—
“The trial of this wonderful instrument took place at Melbourne on the 31st of October last, in the presence of some forty scientific and public men, and was a great success. Sitting in a dark room, they saw projected on a large disk of white burnished metal the race course at Flemington, with its myriad hosts of active beings. Each minute detail stood out with perfect fidelity to the original, and as they looked at the wonderful picture through binocular glasses, it was difficult to imagine that they were not actually on the course itself and moving among those whose actions they could so completely scan.”
We are not told how many miles distant is Flemington from Melbourne; but were one in the moon and the other on earth, it would astonish us as little and would seem as natural as though Flemington were in the same street where the experiment is said to have taken place. Not being informed so far of the principles of electricity acted upon in this particular instance, we cannot compare the means adopted for the projection of the astral “hosts of active beings” on the disk of burnished metal, with those used by the adepts and high Chelas to project the reflections of themselves upon any given point of space. If one is purely electrical, the other is magneto-electrical; but we suppose that, perhaps, with the exception of the magnetic currents of the earth, the principles must be the same. If the invention, and its experiment are no fiction—and we do not see why they should be—then science is, indeed, on the verge of a partial discovery of adept powers: we say, advisedly, “partial,” for, of course, physical science can never discover the part played in the adept’s self-projection by her psychological sister—WILL, even though she were inclined to verify the actuality of such powers. And yet having found out and admitted that space and even time could be annihilated by physical apparatuses, we really do not see the great difficulty of taking a step further and admitting at least the possibility of psychological potencies in man; potencies capable of replacing successfully physical forces and using these but as a basis of, and a complement for, objective manifestations. The most serious impediment in the way of such recognition is the complete ignorance of physical science of all the potentialities contained in the astral light or akasa. She admits the existence of ether, hypothetical though it still remains for her, simply because were its actuality to be rejected, the theories of light, heat and so many other things would be nowhere, and that her most scientific expositions would be upset. Why not admit on the same principle the possibility of spectral apparitions, of the materializations of the spiritualists, of the double or the “doppelgangers” of living persons, etc., rather than encounter the tremendous difficulty of setting to naught the collective evidence of the ages, and that of 20 millions of modern spiritualists, all eye-witnesses to various phenomena who certify to their actuality. We would be glad to learn whether the spectral appearances upon the disk cast any shadows? This is a great point with the occultists, many of whom can testify that the astral bodies of living men—do not.