Friday, March 10, 2023

A Dreamer's Notes: Currency of Psychical Excursions


He is wearing what look like tennis whites from an earlier era. He is brisk, upper-crust, charming - and ready to show his credential immediately. He hands me a 500 euro bill with the words "psychical excursions" written across it in a neat hand. 

I recognize the phrase. It was a term employed by the early researchers for the Society for Psychical Research to describe journeys beyond the body in which the traveler appeared to others as a "phantasm of the living". 

The tennis player's mode of introduction suggests that though the language may sound antiquated, this line of inquiry is valid today, and valuable. He did not allow me to return the banknote. I fold it and put it in my pocket. 

After returning from my dream excursion, I reopen Phantasms of the Living, the first major published work from the S.P.R. I find myself at once in the thick of accounts of "psychical excursions", in which the traveler is dreaming and is perceived by others in their own dreams - and sometimes with their physical eyes. 

One report involves a man who was on the steamship Limerick on a rough Atlantic crossing. Worried about him, his wife spontaneously projected herself from her bedroom to embrace him as he lay on his lower birth in his stateroom thousands of miles away. For him, this was a delightful dream - as it was for his wife, when she shared matching details after the trip. 

For one Mr. Tate, a librarian from Cleveland who occupied the upper berth in the cabin, it was a scandalous flouting of the rules. "You're a pretty fellow," he chastised the dreamer in the lower bunk in the morning, "inviting a woman to our room like that." Awake during the night, Mr. Tate had witnessed the visitation with open eyes. 

Next I went looking for tennis players in the early S.P.R. I seemed to recall that the Australian-born psychic investigator Richard Hodgson (famous for his sleuthing after Madame Blavatsky at one point Secretary of the Society) was a champion tennis player. I soon confirmed that he loved a hard game of hardball and died of a heart attack in an especially violent game at Boston’s Union Boat Club.

This is an unedited report from my journal dated January 6, 2023. I drew the illustration on March 10, 2023. I make a daily practice of making at least one sketch from my dreams, old and new. 


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