February 24, 1913
(I am alone during the first part of the séance)
Reine comes in at two o’clock,—in better health, more buoyant.
We set about the irksome task of the table, persisting during a good long hour, with no other result than crackings, violent movements,, and some vague glimmers of phosphorescence on our hands, or on the centre of the table. Out of all patience, I cut short this tedious gymnastic to magnetize Reine, already so sleepy that she does not even hear my preparations. I work over her for a long time, adding the complementary method prescribed in the last séance, and, when the moment is auspicious, order her spirit to go into the studio and describe what I have arranged there for this purpose. She goes, but with so much difficulty that I ask if she is in the condition necessary to obey my orders. She tells me tersely, and in a hoarse voice, to continue the passes, adding, “I am sleeping well, but not deeply enough.” Finally, she says I may stop. She is more liberated, and perhaps will be able to see better.
I order her to go back to the studio and look on the writing table. Does she find anything unusual there? At expense of great effort she discovers three playing cards that I had pulled from a pack and thrown down without looking at them. She tries to name them but hesitates, sees nothing clearly, is not sure; and, rather awkwardly, gives a vague description, which I find to be false at the end of the séance. Suddenly, her manner changes, her attention is all alive. She declares that she sees a fire— “a big fire, flames are bursting out everywhere! ... Here are the firemen! Everybody is looking” ... etc.
I try to get precise indications as to the quarter of the city and the building that is burning, but obtain only the statement that it is a big building not far from la Place de la Republique. (It was about half-past four.) She sees nothing more: says that she is back here.
I resume the passes, and when the hypnosis seems at the right point, send her imperatively to 86, rue de Miromesnil, telling her to enter an apartment of the fourth floor and describe what she sees there. As she does not know the street, I give directions. She reaches the house, takes the staircase (which she herself discovers in the court), and, at my formal order, enters the apartment. She sees the hall clearly, and is attracted to the room on the right, which she describes accurately, remarking a big writing-table, pictures on the wall, etc.; but it is only later that she discovers a man seated at the table and writing—“a big, strong man, ... with a beard, ... and who wears eyeglasses ... or is it spectacles? Oh, he’s a big man—powerful.”
She cuts off her description with an exclamation: ‘‘But I know who he is! It’s the gentleman who was here that day when we were at the table and the time by your watch was given!” Bravo. It is indeed to my friend S. O. that I have sent her, and Reine has recognized him though she has seen him only once, at that unsuccessful fifth séance, the twenty-first of December.
Just here the bell rings. Not wishing to open the door to a stranger, I take advantage of Reine’s condition to discover who the visitor may be. Quickly I order:— “Reine, come back immediately. Are you here? Then go to the door and see who has rung.”—”Must I go outside?”—‘‘Yes, outside. Be quick. Look.”—A second of suspense, then she whispers gaily: “It’s Madame Cornillier.”—‘‘You are quite sure?” “Ha! Yes!” I open the door to my wife.
This incident having brought Reine to a less profound state of hypnosis, I tell her to get into communication with Vettellini that he may clear up certain points that remain obscure for me.
First, I would like to know if the length of each individual life is determined at birth. “No,” says Vettellini, “except in the case of children destined to die young. But for those who are to have a normal life the date of death is determined in the course of their existence, and even by the course of their existence. Their development of consciousness may advance or delay the fatality which, in any case, can be foreseen a long time before it occurs.”
I ask if Reine is right in affirming that to die in infancy is a sign of fairly high evolution.—”Yes, certainly.” I remark that there are children who die between five and ten years of age who seem to be mentally inferior and who are sometimes even idiots. “That is true,” replies Vettellini, “but it is merely an inferiority of the organism, it has nothing whatever to do with the Spirit who, indeed, in many cases, has a dull consciousness of imminent death, and does not take the trouble to ameliorate his instrument of expression.”
If to die in infancy is a sign of high evolution, does that imply that death in age shows an inferiority of the Spirit? “Not at all. Generally speaking, inferior Spirits should have a long life, to give all possible chances for their evolution. But a high Spirit may also attain an advanced age,—and for various reasons: for instance, if he has a role to fill, an aim to accomplish, teaching to give; if he is a cause of evolution to those around him, or, even, merely for his own benefit.”
The accidents which suddenly cut off life, are they always determined beforehand? Is it not sometimes a question of chance?—“Never. They always occur at the date and under the conditions determined.”
Those whose existence is a long physical agony, do they in this way expiate faults or crimes committed in a former life?—”Yes, always. It is the result of past acts. It is the redemption—which sometimes they themselves have chosen ... as expiation.”
I come to the question of suicide and try to obtain the assurance that under exceptional circumstances it has its excuse.—”There is no excuse for arresting life—one’s own, or that of another. They who have killed themselves are reprobate, as are all murderers and assassins, as is even the judge who inflicts a death sentence.” Here Reine gives an interesting appreciation of this question of capital punishment. Vettellini considers it as another crime—for which, in a relative degree, each public officer is reponsible, be he judge, juror, or hangman. They will bear the consequences until they come to understand that one may not arrest a life in its course. Never. Never. He even goes so far as to say that it is wrong to neglect one’s health, and the care of one’s body. One should keep one’s instrument in the best possible condition.
I turn again to the question of cremation, not yet quite clear. Can it possibly be just that those who have been cremated, either without their consent, or voluntarily, believing it best, should suffer from the fatal function of a law of which they were ignorant? “On principle, no one may be punished for an act that he has committed through ignorance,” replies Vettellini. “There is no question of expiation, no painful remorse for people in this case; but they will nevertheless be retarded, because of certain physicochemical difficulties, in their reincarnation. But the white Spirits appreciate the circumstances and modify the application of the law in consequence.”
Here I ask if I was wrong to leave the table before the time prescribed—explaining how annoying it is to sit in the dark for an hour or so, holding on to a piece of unstable furniture. He says that it was because he saw my great desire for material phenomena that he had recommended this exercise, and had sent his aids—Jeanik and the other one. As a matter of fact, it is hardly possible to get what I want except with a group of assistants forming a chain, etc., etc. If we wait for the complete development of Reine’s faculties, she herself will realize such phenomena; but for that she must reach the point of catalepsy. Until she becomes lifeless and cold as death, we shall obtain nothing in this direction. Today the sleep has been profound, but not sufficiently profound to allow her double to obey me instantly. I should begin earlier, magnetize her gently and slowly (not to fatigue myself), but during a very long time, and without questioning her. After several such séances she should obey me, as my own thought obeys me. I must work especially on her head, inhibit her will and substitute my own. For instance, today, when I sent her into the studio, she calmly strolled outside on her own errands. It was then she saw the fire—which Vettellini says really existed. He repeats and affirms that I shall get marvelous results with Reine, but I must have patience: her health worries him; she is better, but she must continue to take great precautions ... and this she does not always remember.
This last reflection provokes one of the scenes, so impossible to describe, and so convincing that we always regret being the only observers of them. There is a discussion between them—a violent one. At first we catch only a few sharp disjointed phrases, it is more by her gestures and expression that we understand her anger. Evidently she flatly refuses to obey, turns her back abruptly on Vettellini and sulks. Too angry to be silent, however, she flings about in her chair again, only to repeat that she does not want to, and she won’t! But probably the Maitre knows how to make use of a fit of temper, for there are signs of capitulation; she yields ... on one point only.
Reluctantly turning to me, she confesses that the last two days she has not taken her cod liver oil… . But this is not enough. Vettellini insists. No, and no! She will not and she will not! and the scene of fury begins all over again.
I urge her then to make a clean breast of it, just “to get out of trouble, and suddenly she breaks down. She did not breakfast this morning, but it was not her fault, she had no money (pas des sous). This time all is confessed.
Only, she hears Vettellini laugh, and once again turns her back on him—wounded and angry. But evidently his charm is irresistible, for, like a child tired of sulking, she laughs herself and makes peace.
“TWENTY-SIXTH SÉANCE” is an extract from The Survival Of The Soul And Its Evolution After Death by Pierre-Emile Cornillier.