From India to the Planet Mars, by Théodore Flournoy; tr. Daniel B. Vermilye, , at sacred-texts.com
THE title of this book would naturally commit me to a review of the Hindoo romance before investigating the Martian cycle. Considerations of method have caused me to reverse this order. It is better to advance from the simple to the complex, and while we certainly know less concerning the planet Mars than of India, the romance which it has inspired in the subliminal genius of Mlle. Smith is relatively less difficult to explain than the Oriental cycle. In fact, the former seems to spring from pure imagination, while in the latter we meet with certain actual historical elements, and whence Hélène's memory and intelligence have gained a knowledge of them is an extremely difficult problem for us to solve. There is, then, only one faculty at work in the Martian romance, as a professional psychologist would say, while the Oriental cycle calls several into play, making it necessary to treat of it later, on account of its greater psychological complexity.
While the unknown language which forms the vehicle of many of the Martian messages cannot naturally be dissociated from the rest of the cycle, it merits, nevertheless, a special consideration, and
the following chapter will be entirely devoted to it. It does not figure in the present chapter, in which I shall treat of the origin and the content only of the Martian romance.
"We dare to hope," says M. Camille Flammarion, at the beginning of his excellent work on the planet Mars, "that the day will come when scientific methods yet unknown to us will give us direct evidences of the existence of the inhabitants of other worlds, and at the same time, also, will put us in communication with our brothers in space." * And on the last page of his book he recurs to the same idea, and says: "What marvels does not the science of the future reserve for our successors, and who would dare to say that Martian humanity and terrestrial humanity will not some day enter into communication with each other?"
This splendid prospect seems still far off, along with that of wireless telegraphy, and almost an Utopian dream, so long as one holds strictly to the current conceptions of our positive sciences. But break these narrow limits; fly, for example, towards the illimitable horizon which spiritism opens up to its happy followers, and as soon as this vague hope takes shape, nothing seems to prevent its immediate
realization; and the only cause for wonder is found in the fact that no privileged medium has yet arisen to have the glory, unique in the world, of being the first intermediary between ourselves and the human inhabitants of other planets; for spiritism takes no more account of the barrier of space than of time. The "gates of distance" are wide open before it. With it the question of means is a secondary matter; one has only the embarrassment of making a choice. It matters not whether it be by intuition, by clairvoyance, by telepathy, or by double personality that the soul is permitted to leave momentarily its terrestrial prison and make the voyage between this world and others in an instant of time, or whether the feat is accomplished by means of the astral body, by the reincarnation of disincarnate omnisciences, by "fluid beings," or, in a word, by any other process whatever. The essential point is, according to spiritism, that no serious objection would be offered to the possibility of such communication. The only difficulty would be to find a mediumistic subject possessing sufficient psychical faculties. It is a simple question of fact; if such a one has not yet been found, it is apparently only because the time is not yet ripe. But now that astronomers themselves appeal to those "unknown methods of actual science" to put us en rapport with other worlds, no doubt spiritismwhich is the science of to-morrow, as definite as absolute religionwill soon respond to these legitimate aspirations. We may, therefore, expect at any moment the revelation so impatiently looked for, and every
good medium has the right to ask herself whether she is not the being predestined to accomplish this unrivalled mission.
These are the considerations which, to my mind, in their essential content inspired in the subliminal part of Mlle. Smith the first idea of her Martian romance. I would not assert that the passages from M. Flammarion which I have quoted came directly to the notice of Hélène, but they express and recapitulate wonderfully well one of the elements of the atmosphere in which she found herself at the beginning of her mediumship. For if there are no certain indications of her ever having read any work on the "heavenly worlds" and their inhabitants, either that of M. Flammarion or of any other author, she has, nevertheless, heard such subjects discussed. She is perfectly familiar with the name of the celebrated astronomical writer Juvisy, and knows something of his philosophical ideas, which, by-the-way, is not at all surprising when we consider the popularity he enjoys among spiritists, who find in him a very strong scientific support for their doctrine of reincarnation on other planets.
I also have evidence that in the circle of Mme. N., of which Hélène was a member in 1892, the conversation more than once turned in the direction of the habitability of Mars, to which the discovery of the famous "canals" has for some years specially directed the attention of the general public. This circumstance appears to me to explain sufficiently the fact that Hélène's subliminal astronomy should be concerned with this planet. It is, moreover, quite
possible that the first germs of the Martian romance date still further back than the beginning of Hélène's mediumship. The Oriental rôle shows indications of concerning itself with that planet, and the very clear impression which she has of having in her childhood and youth experienced many visions of a similar kind "without her noticing them particularly," gives rise to the supposition that the ingredients of which this cycle is composed date from many years back. Possibly they may have one and the same primitive source in the exotic memories, descriptions, or pictures of tropical countries which later branched out under the vigorous impulsion of spiritistic ideas in two distinct currents, the Hindoo romance on the one side and the Martian on the other, whose waters are mingled on more than one occasion afterwards.
While, on the whole, therefore, it is probable that its roots extend back as far as the childhood of Mlle. Smith, it is nevertheless with the Martian romance, as well as with the others, not a mere question of the simple cryptomnesiac return of facts of a remote past, or of an exhumation of fossil residua brought to light again by the aid of somnambulism. It is a very active process, and one in full course of evolution, nourished, undoubtedly, by elements belonging to the past, but which have been recombined and moulded in a very original fashion, until it amounts finally, among other things, to the creation of an unknown language. It will be interesting to follow step by step the phases of this elaboration: but since it always, unfortunately, hides itself in the obscurity of the subconsciousness, we are only cognizant of it by its occasional
appearances, and all the rest of that subterranean work must be inferred, in a manner somewhat hypothetical, from those supraliminal eruptions and the scanty data which we have concerning the outward influences which have exerted a stimulating influence upon the subliminal part of Hélène. It was in 1892, then, that the conversations took place which were to prepare the soil for this work of lofty subliminal fantasy, and planted in Hélène's mind the double idea, of enormous scientific interest, that she could enter into direct relation with the inhabitants of Mars, and of the possibility, unsuspected by scientists, but which spiritism furnishes us, of reaching there by a mediumistic route. I doubt, however, whether that vague suggestion on the part of the environment would have sufficed to engender the Martian dreamsince for more than two years no sign of its eruption mainfested itselfwithout the intervention of some fillip more concrete, capable of giving a start to the whole movement. It is not easy, unfortunately, for want of records of the facts, to assign with precision the circumstances under which and the moment when Hélène's subconscious imagination received that effective impulsion, but an unequivocal trace is discovered, as I am about to show in the contemporaneous report of the proceedings of the first distinctly Martian seance of Mlle. Smith.
In March, 1894, Hélène made the acquaintance of M. Lemaître, who, being exceedingly interested in the phenomena of abnormal psychology, was present with others at some of her seances, and finally begged her to hold some at his house. At the first of these
[paragraph continues] (October 28, 1894), Hélène met a lady, a widow, who was greatly to be pitied. Besides suffering from a very serious affection of the eyes, Mme. Mirbel had been terribly afflicted by the loss of her only son, Alexis, seventeen years old, and a pupil of M. Lemaître. While not yet fully convinced of the truth of spiritism, it is easy to understand that Mme. Mirbel was very anxious to believe in that consolatory doctrine, and ready to accept it, if only some proofs could be furnished her; and what more convincing testimony could she ask or receive than that of a message from her beloved child? Moreover, it was probably not without a secret hope of procuring a communication of this nature that she accepted the invitation which M. Lemaître had sent her with the idea of procuring some moments of distraction for the unhappy mother As happens frequently in Hélène's case, this first seance fully satisfied the desires of the sitters and surpassed their expectations. Speaking only of that which concerns Mme. Mirbel, Hélène had the vision, first, of a young man, in the very detailed description of whom there was no difficulty in recognizing the deceased Alexis Mirbel; then of an old man whom the table called Raspail, brought by the young man that he might treat his mother's eyes, who thus had the double privilege of receiving through. the table words of tenderness from her son, and from Raspail directions for the treatment of the affection of her eyes. Nothing in that seance recalled in any way the planet Mars, and it could not be foreseen from anything that occurred there that Alexis Mirbel, disincarnated, would return
later under the name of Esenale as official interpreter of the Martian language.
It was altogether different a month later (November 25), at the second reunion at M. Lemaître's, at which Mme. Mirbel was again present. On this occasion the astronomical dream appeared at once and dominated the entire seance.
From the beginning, says the report of the seance, Mlle. Smith perceived, in the distance and at a great height, a bright light. Then she felt a tremor which almost caused her heart to cease beating, after which it seemed to her as though her head were empty and as if she were no longer in the body. She found herself in a dense fog, which changed successively from blue to a vivid rose color, to gray, and then to black: she is floating, she says; and the table, supporting itself on one leg, seemed to express a very curious floating movement. Then she sees a star, growing larger, always larger. and becomes, finally, "as large as our house." Hélène feels that she is ascending; then the table gives, by raps: "Lemaître, that which you have so long desired!" Mlle. Smith, who had been ill at ease, finds herself feeling better; she distinguishes three enormous globes, one of them very beautiful. "On what am I walking?" she asks. And the table replies: "On a worldMars." Hélène then began a description of all the strange things which presented themselves to her view, and caused her as much surprise as amusement. Carriages without horses or wheels, emitting sparks as they glided by; houses with fountains on the roof; a cradle having for curtains
an angel made of iron with outstretched wings, etc. What seemed less strange, were people exactly like the inhabitants of our earth, save that both sexes wore the same costume, formed of trousers very ample, and a long blouse, drawn tight about the waist and decorated with various designs. The child in the cradle was exactly like our children, according to the sketch which Hélène made from memory after the seance.
Finally, she saw upon Mars a sort of vast assembly hall, in which was Professor Raspail, having in the first row of his hearers the young Alexis Mirbel, who, by a typtological dictation, reproached his mother for not having followed the medical prescription which he gave her a month previously: "Dear mamma, have you, then, so little confidence in us? You have no idea how much pain you have caused me!" Then followed a conversation of a private nature between Mme. Mirbel and her son, the latter replying by means of the table; then everything becomes quiet, the vision of Mars effaces itself little by little; the table takes the same rotary .movement on one foot which it had at the commencement of the seance; Mlle. Smith finds herself again in the fogs and goes through the same process as before in an inverse order. Then she exclaims: "Ah! here I am back again!" and several loud raps on the table mark the end of the seance.
I have related in its principal elements this first Martian seance, for the sake of its importance in different respects.
The initial series of cnæsthetic hallucinations,
corresponding to a voyage from the earth to Mars, reflects well the childish character of an imagination which scientific problems or the exigencies of logic trouble very little. Without doubt spiritism can explain how the material difficulties of an interplanetary journey may be avoided in a purely mediumistic, fluid connection; but why, then, this persistence of physical sensations, trouble with the heart, tremor, floating sensation, etc.? However it may be, this series of sensations is from this time on the customary prelude, and, as it were, the premonitory aura of the Martian dream, with certain modifications, throughout all the seances; sometimes it is complicated with auditive hallucinations (rumbling, noise of rushing water, etc.), or sometimes olfactory (disagreeable odors of burning, of sulphur, of a coming storm), oftener it tends to shorten and simplify itself, until it is either reduced to a brief feeling of malaise, or to the initial visual hallucination of the light, generally very brilliant and red, in which the Martian visions usually appear.
But the point to which I wish to call special attention is that singular speech of the table, on the instant at which Mlle. Smith arrives on the distant star, and before it is known what star is concerned: "Lemaître, that which you have so much wished for!" This declaration, which may be considered as a dedication, so to speak, inscribed on the frontispiece of the Martian romance, authorizes us, in my opinion, in considering it and interpreting it in its origin, as a direct answer to a wish of M. Lemaître, a desire which came at a recent period to
[paragraph continues] Hélène's knowledge, and which has enacted with her the initiatory rôle of her astronomical dream.
It is true that M. Lemaître himself did not understand at the moment to what this preliminary warning referred, but the note which he inserted at the end of his report of that seance is instructive in this regard: "I do not know how to explain the first words dictated by the table: 'Lemaître, that which you have so much wished for!' M. S. reminds me that in a conversation which I had with him last summer I said to him: 'It would be very interesting to know what is happening upon other planets.' If this is an answer to the wish of last year, very well."
It must be added that M. S., who had been sufficiently struck by this wish of M. Lemaître to remember it for several months, was, during all of the time referred to, one of the most regular attendants upon the seances of Mlle. Smith; and, to one who knows by experience all that happens at the spiritistic reunions, before, after, and during the seance itself, there could hardly be any doubt but that it was through M. S., as intermediary, that Mlle. Smith had heard mentioned M. Lemaître's regret at our relative ignorance of the inhabitants of other planets. This idea, probably caught on the wing during the state of suggestibility which accompanies the seances, returned with renewed force when Hélène was invited to hold a seance at the house of M. Lemaître, and made more vivid also by the desire, which is always latent in her, of making the visions as interesting as possible to the persons among whom she finds herself. Such is, in my opinion, the seed which, falling into
the ground and fertilized by former conversations concerning the inhabitants of Mars and the possibility of spiritistic relations with them, has served as the germ of the romance, the further development of which it remains for me to trace.
One point which still remains to be cleared up in the seance, as I come to sum up, is the singularly artificial character and the slight connection between the Martian vision, properly so called, and the reappearance of Raspail and Alexis Mirbel. We do not altogether understand what these personages have to do with it. What need is there of their being to-day found on the planet Mars simply for the purpose of continuing their interview with Mme. Mirbel, begun at a previous seance, without the intervention of any planet? The assembly-hall at which they are found, while it is located on Mars, is a bond of union all the more artificial between them and that planet in that there is nothing specifically Martian in its description and appears to have been borrowed from our globe. This incident is at bottom a matter out of the regular course, full of interest undoubtedly for Mme. Mirbel, whom it directly concerns, but without intimate connection with the Martian world. It was evidently the astronomical revelation, intended for M. Lemaître, and ripened by a period of incubation, which should have furnished the material for this seance; but the presence of Mme. Mirbel awoke anew the memory of her son and of Raspail, which had occupied the preceding seance, and these memories, interfering with the Martian vision, become, for good or ill, incorporated as a strange episode in it without having
any direct connection with it. The work of unification, of dramatization, by which these two unequal chains of ideas are harmonized and fused the one with the other through the intermediation of an assembly-hall, is no more or no less extraordinary than that which displays itself in all our nocturnal phantasmagoria, where certain absolutely heterogeneous memories often ally themselves after an unexpected fashion, and afford opportunity for confusions of the most bizarre character.
But mediumistic communications differ from ordinary dreams in thisnamely, the incoherence of the latter does not cause them to have any consequences. We are astonished and diverted for a moment as we reflect upon a dream. Sometimes a dream holds a little longer the attention of the psychologist, who endeavors to unravel the intricate plot of his dreams and to discover, amid the caprices of association or the events of the waking state, the origin of their tangled threads. But, on the whole, this incoherence has no influence on the ultimate course of our thoughts, because we see in our dreams only the results of chance, without value in themselves and without objective signification.
It is otherwise with spiritistic communications, by reason of the importance and the credit accorded them.
The medium who partially recollects her automatisms, or to whom the sitters have detailed them after the close of the seance, adding also their comments, becomes preoccupied with these mysterious revelations; like the paranoiac, who perceives hidden meanings
or a profound significance in the most trifling coincidences, she seeks to fathom the content of her strange visions, reflects on them, examines them in the light of spiritistic notions; if she encounters difficulties in them, or contradictions, her conscious or unconscious thought (the two are not always in accord) will undertake the task of removing them, and solving as well as possible the problems which these dream-creations, considered as realities, impose upon her, and the later somnambulisms will bear the imprint of this labor of interpretation or correction.
It is to this point we have come at the commencement of the astronomical romance of Mlle. Smith. The purely accidental and fortuitous conjunction of the planet Mars and Alexis Mirbel in the seance of the 25th of November determined their definitive welding together. Association by fortuitous contiguity is transformed into a logical connection.
This development was not effected in a regular manner; but for the most part by leaps and bounds, separating stoppages more or less prolonged. After its inauguration in the seance of November 25, 1894, it suffered a first eclipse of nearly fifteen months, attributable to new preoccupations which had installed themselves on the highest plane of Mlle. Smith's subconsciousness and held that position throughout the whole of the year 1895.
Compared with the seance of November, 1894, that
of February, 1896 (of which a résumé follows), shows interesting innovations. Raspail does not figure in it and henceforth does not appear again, which was probably due to the fact that Mme. Mirbel had failed to make use of the method of treatment which he had prescribed for her eyes. Young Mirbel, on the contrary, sole object of the desires and longings of his poor mother, occupies the highest plane, and is the central figure of the vision. He now speaks Martian and no longer understands French, which complicates the conversation somewhat. Further, not possessing the power of moving tables upon our globe, it is through the intervention of the medium, by incarnating himself momentarily in Mlle. Smith, that he henceforth communicates with his mother. These two latter points in their turn cause certain difficulties to arise, which, acting as a ferment or a suggestion, will later usher in a new step in the progress of the romance: Alexis Mirbel cannot return to incarnate himself in a terrestrial medium if he is imprisoned in his Martian existence; he must first terminate that and return to the condition in which he again floats in interplanetary space; which "fluid" or wandering state permits him at the same time to give us the French translation of the Martian tongue; since, according to spiritism, a complete memory of previous existences, and consequently of the various languages pertaining to them, is temporarily recovered during the phases of disincarnation.
These anticipatory hints will assist the reader in following more easily the thread of the somnambulistic romance in the résumé of its principal stages.
February 2, 1896.I sum up, by enumerating them, the principal somnambulistic phases of this seance, which lasted more than two hours and a half, and at which Mme. Mirbel assisted.
I. Increasing hemisomnambulism, with gradual loss of consciousness of the real environmentat the beginning the table bows several times to Mme. Mirbel, announcing that the coming scene is intended for her. After a series of elementary visual hallucinations (rainbow colors, etc.), meaning for Mme. Mirbel that she would finally become blind, Hélène arose, left the table, and held a long conversation with an imaginary woman who wished her to enter a curious little car without wheels or horses. She became impatient towards this woman, who, after having at first spoken to her in French, now persisted in speaking in an unintelligible tongue, like Chinese. Leopold revealed to us by the little finger that it was the language of the planet Mars, that this woman is the mother of Alexis Mirbel, reincarnated on that planet, and that Hélène herself will speak Martian. Presently Hélène begins to recite with increasing volubility an incomprehensible jargon, the beginning of which is as follows (according to notes taken by M. Lemaître at the time, as accurately as possible): "Mitchma mitchmon mimini tchouainem mimatchineg masichinof mézavi patelki abrésinad navette naven navette mitchichénid naken chinoutoufiche" . . . From this point the rapidity prevented the recognition of anything else, except such scraps as "téké. . . katéchivist. . . méguetch," . . . or "méketch . . . kété . . . chiméké." After a few minutes,
[paragraph continues] Hélène interrupts herself, crying out, "Oh, I have had enough of it; you say such words to me I will never be able to repeat them." Then, with some reluctance, she consents to follow her interlocutrix into the car which was to carry her to Mars.
2. The trance is now complete. Hélène thereupon mimics the voyage to Mars in three phases, the meaning of which is indicated by Leopold: a regular rocking motion of the upper part of the body (passing through the terrestrial atmosphere), absolute immobility and rigidity (interplanetary space), again oscillations of the shoulders and the bust (atmosphere of Mars). Arrived upon Mars, she descends from the car, and performs a complicated pantomime expressing the manners of Martian politeness: uncouth gestures with the hands and fingers, slapping of the hands, taps of the fingers upon the nose, the lips, the chin, etc., twisted courtesies, glidings, and rotation on the floor, etc. It seems that is the way people approach and salute each other up there.
3. This sort of dance having suggested to one of the sitters the idea of performing upon the piano, Hélène suddenly fell upon the floor in an evidently hypnotic state, which had no longer a Martian character. At the cessation of the music she entered into a mixed state, in which the memory of the Martian visions continually mingle themselves with some idea of her terrestrial existence. She talks to herself. "Those dreams are droll, all the same. . . . I must tell that to M. Lemaître. When he [the Martian Alexis Mirbel] said 'Good-day' to me, he tapped himself upon the nose. . . . He spoke to me in a
queer language, but I understood it perfectly, all the same," etc. Seated on the ground, leaning against a piece of furniture, she continues, soliloquizing in French, in a low voice, to review the dream, mingling with it some wandering reflections. She finds, for example, that the young Martian (Alexis) was a remarkably big boy for one only five or six years old, as he claimed to be, and that the woman seemed very young to be his mother.
4. After a transitory phase of sighs and hiccoughs, followed by profound sleep with muscular relaxation, she enters into Martian somnambulism and murmurs some confused words: "Késin ouitidjé" . . . etc. I command her to speak French to me; she seems to understand, and replies in Martian, with an irritated and imperious tone, I ask her to tell me her name; she replies, "Vasimini Météche." With the idea that, perhaps, she "is incarnating" the young Alexis, of whom she has spoken so much in the preceding phase, I urge Mme. Mirbel to approach her, and thereupon begins a scene of incarnation really very affecting; Mme. Mirbel is on her knees, sobbing bitterly, in the presence of her recovered son, who shows her marks of the most profound affection and caresses her hands "exactly as he was accustomed to do during his last illness," all the time carrying on a discourse in Martian (tin is toutch), which the poor mother cannot understand, but to which an accent of extreme sweetness and a tender intonation impart an evident meaning of words of consolation and filial tenderness. This pathetic duet lasted about ten minutes,
and was brought to an end by a return to lethargic sleep, from which Hélène awakened at the end of a quarter of an hour, pronouncing a short Martian word, after which she instantly recovered the use of her French and her normal waking state.
5. Questioned as to what had passed, Hélène, while drinking tea, narrates the dream which she has had. She has a sufficiently clear memory of her journey and of what she has seen on Mars, with the exception of the young man, of whom she has retained only a recollection of the scene of incarnation.
But suddenly, in the midst of the conversation, she begins to speak in Martian, without appearing to be aware of it, and while continuing to chat with us in the most natural manner; she appeared to understand all our words, and answered in her strange idiom, in the most normal tone, and seemed very much astonished when we told her that we did not understand her language; she evidently believes she is speaking French. * By questioning her concerning a visit which she had made a few days before to M. C., and asking her the number and the names of the persons whom she met there, we succeed in identifying the four following Martian words: Métiche S., Monsieur S.; Médache C., Madame C.; Métaganiche Smith, Mademoiselle Smith; kintche, four. After which she resumes definitively her French. Interrogated as to the incident
which has transpired, she is astounded, has only a hesitating and confused memory of her having spoken at all this evening of her visit to M. C., and does not recognize nor understand the four Martian words given above when they are repeated to her. On several occasions during this seance I had made the suggestion to Hélène that at a given signal, after her awaking, she would recover the memory of the Martian words pronounced by her and of their meaning. But Leopold, who was present, declared that this command would not be obeyed, and that a translation could not be obtained this evening. The signal, though often repeated, was, in fact, without result.
It has seemed to me necessary to describe with some detail this seance, at which the Martian language made its first appearance, in order to place before the reader all the fragments which, we have been able to gather, without, of course, any guarantee of absolute accuracy, since every one knows how difficult it is to note the sounds of unknown words. A curious difference is to be noticed between the words picked up in the course of the seance and the four words several times repeated by Hélène, the meaning and pronunciation of which have been determined with complete accuracy in the posthypnotic return of the somnambulistic dream. Judged by these latter, the Martian language is only a puerile counterfeit of French, of which she preserves in each word a number of syllables and certain conspicuous letters. In the other phrases, on the contrary, also making use of later texts which have been translated, as
we shall see hereafter, it cannot be discovered what it is. We are constrained to believe that these first outbreaks of Martian, characterized by a volubility which we have rarely met with since then, was only a pseudo-Martian, a continuation of sounds uttered at random and without any real meaning, analogous to the gibberish which children use sometimes in their games of "pretending" to speak Chinese or Indian, and that the real Martian was only created by an unskilful distortion of French, in a posthypnotic access of hemisomnambulism, in order to respond to the manifest desire of the sitters to obtain the precise significance of some isolated Martian words.
The impossibility, announced by Leopold, of procuring a translation that same evening of the pretended Martian spoken for the first time during that seance, and the fact that it could not again be obtained, give some support to the preceding theory.
The circumstance that Hélène, in remembering her dream in phase No. 3, had the sentiment of having well understood this unknown jargon, is not an objection, since the children who amuse themselves by simulating an uncouth idiomto recur to that exampledo not retain the least consciousness of the ideas which their gibberish is assumed to express. It seems, in short, that if this new language was already really established at that time in Hélène's subliminal consciousness to the point of sustaining fluently discourses of several minutes duration, some phrases at least would not have failed to gush forth, spontaneously sometimes, in the course of ordinary
life, and in order to throw light upon visions of Martian people or landscapes. More than seven months had to elapse before that phenomenon, which was so frequent afterwards, began to appear.
May we not see in this half-year a period of incubation, employed in the subliminal fabrication of a language, properly so calledthat is to say, formed of precise words and with a definite signification, in imitation of the four terms just referred toto replace the disordered nonsense of the beginning?
However it may be, and to return to our story, one can imagine the interest which that sudden and unexpected apparition of mysterious speech aroused, and which the authority of Leopold would not allow to be taken for anything other than the language of Mars. The natural curiosity of Hélène herself, as well as that of her friends, to know more about our neighbors of other worlds and their way of expressing themselves should naturally have contributed to the development of the subliminal dream. The following seance, unhappily, did not justify the promise with which it began.
February 16, 1896."At the beginning of this seance, Hélène has a vision of Alexis Mirbel, who announces, by means of the table, that he has not forgotten his French, and that he will give a translation of the Martian words another day. But this prediction is not fulfilled. Whether Hélène, for the reason that she is not feeling well to-day, or that the presence of some one antipathetic to her has hindered the production of the phenomena, the Martian somnambulism, which seemed on the point of breaking
forth, did not make its appearance. Hélène remains in a crepuscular state, in which the feeling of present reality and the Martian ideas on the level of consciousness interfere with and mutually obscure each other.. She speaks in French with the sitters, but mingling with it here and there a strange word (such as méche, chinit, chéque, which, according to the context, seem to signify pencil, ring, paper), and appears far away from her actual surroundings. She is astonished, in particular, at the sight of M. R. occupied in taking notes by the procès verbal, and seems to find that manner of writing with a pen or pencil strange and absurd, but without explaining clearly how it was to be otherwise accomplished. The importance of this seance is in the fact that the idea stands out clearly (which was not to be realized until a year and a half later) of a mode of handwriting peculiar to the planet Mars."
This seance, which was almost a failure, was the last of that period. Hélène's health, which became more and more impaired by standing too long on her feet and overwork at her desk, necessitated her taking a complete rest. I have mentioned the fact that during these six months, without any regular seances, she was subject to a superabundance of spontaneous visions and somnambulisms; but these automatisms belonged to the Hindoo or other cycles, and I do not believe that she experienced during that time any phenomena which were clearly related to the Martian romance. On the other hand, as soon as she was re-established in and had returned to her normal mode of life, the latter appeared again with
all the more intensity, dating from the following nocturnal vision. (See Fig. 9.)
September 5, 1896.Hélène narrates that having arisen at a quarter-past three in the morning to take in some flowers that stood upon the window-sill and were threatened by the wind, instead of going back to bed immediately she sat down upon her bed and saw before her a landscape and some peculiar people. She was on the border of a beautiful blue-pink lake, with a bridge the sides of which were transparent and formed of yellow tubes like the pipes of an organ, of which one end seemed to be plunged into the water. The earth was peach-colored; some of the trees had trunks widening as they ascended, while those of others were twisted. Later a crowd approached the bridge, in which one woman was especially prominent. The women wore hats which were flat, like plates. Hélène does not know who these people are, but has the feeling of having conversed with them. On the bridge there was a man of dark complexion (Astané), carrying in his hands an instrument somewhat resembling a carriage-lantern in appearance, which, being pressed, emitted flames, and which seemed to be a flying-machine. By means of this instrument the man left the bridge, touched the surface of the water, and returned again to the bridge. This tableau lasted twenty-five minutes, since Hélène, upon returning to consciousness, observed that her candle was still burning and ascertained that it was then 3.40 o'clock. She is convinced that she did not fall asleep, but was wide awake during all of this vision. (See Figs. 10 and 11.)
From that time the spontaneous Martian visions are repeated and multiplied. Mlle. Smith experiences them usually in the morning, after awaking and before rising from her bed; sometimes in the evening, or occasionally at other times during the day. It is in the course of these visual hallucinations that the Martian language appears again under an auditive form.
September 22, 1896.During these last days Hélène has seen again on different occasions the Martian man, with or without his flying-machine; for example, he appeared to her while she was taking a bath, at the edge of the bath-tub. She has had several times visions of a strange house the picture of which followed her with so much persistency that she finally painted it (see Fig. 12). At the same time she heard on three different occasions a sentence the meaning of which she does not know, but which she was able to take down with her pencil as follows: "Dodé né ci haudan té méche métiche Astané ké dé mé véche." (As was ascertained six weeks after, by the translation given in the seance of the 2d of November, this phrase indicates that the strange house is that of the Martian man, who is called Astané.)
This phrase was undoubtedly Martian, but what was the meaning of it? After having hoped in vain for nearly a month that the meaning would be revealed in some way or other, I decided to try a disguised suggestion. I wrote to Leopold himself a letter, in which I appealed to his omniscience as well as to his kindness to give me some enlightenment in regard to the strange language which piqued our
curiosity, and, in particular, as to the meaning of the phrase Hélène had heard. I asked him to answer me in writing, by means of Hélène's hand. We did not have to wait long for a reply. Hélène received my letter the 20th of October, and on the evening of the 22d, seized with a vague desire to write, she took a pencil, which placed itself in the regular position, between the thumb and the index-finger (whereas she always held her pen between the middle and index-finger), and traced rapidly, in the characteristic handwriting of Leopold and with his signature, a beautiful epistle of eighteen Alexandrine lines addressed to me, of which the ten last are as follows, being an answer to my request that the secrets of Martian be revealed to me:
I have been very sensible to the pledges of fraternal affection that Leopold has accorded me, but this time I was especially moved, and although the very uncommon name of Esenale meant absolutely nothing to me, I took care not to forget the singular rule which had been furnished me. At the following seance an opportunity for using it presented itself, and Leopold went so far as to direct himself the application of his method by giving us his instructions, sometimes with one finger, sometimes with another, during Hélène's Martian trance.
Monday, November 2, 1896.After various characteristic symptoms of the departure for Mars (vertigo, affection of the heart, etc.), Hélène went in a deep sleep. I had recourse to the prescribed method, but Leopold, by the fingers of the right hand, indicated that the proper moment had not yet arrived, and said: "When the soul shall again have regained possession of itself thou shalt execute my order; she will then describe to you, while still asleep, that which she shall have seen on Mars." Shortly after he adds, "Make her sit down in an easy-chair" (instead of the uncomfortable one which she had taken, as was her wont); then, as her peaceful sleep still continued, he informs us again that she is en route towards Mars; that once arrived up there she understands the Martian spoken around her, although she has never learned it; that it is not he, Leopold, who will translate the Martian for usnot because he does not wish to do so, but because he cannot; that this translation is the performance of Esenale, who is actually disincarnate in space, but who has
recently lived upon Mars, and also upon the earth, which permits him to act as interpreter, etc.
After half an hour of waiting, Hélène's calm sleep gave way to agitation, and she passed into another form of somnambulism, with sighs, rhythmic movements of the head and hands, then grotesque Martian gestures and French words murmured softly to the hearing of Leopold, who seems to accompany her on Mars, and to whom she confides some of her impressions in regard to that which she perceives. In the midst of this soliloquy a 'vertical movement of the arm, peculiar to Leopold, indicates that the moment has arrived for carrying out his directions. I place my hand on Hélène's forehead, and utter the name of Esenale, to which Hélène replies in a soft, feeble, somewhat melancholy, voice: "Esenale has gone away . . . he has left me alone . . . but he will return, . . . he will soon return. . . . He has taken me by the hand and made me enter the house [that which she saw in her vision, and of which she made the drawing a month agosee Fig. 12]. . . . I do not know where Esenale is leading me, but he has said to me, 'Dodé né ci haudan té méche métiche Astané ké dé mé véche,' but I did not understand; . . . dodé, this; né, is; ci, the; haudan, house; te, of the; méche, great; métiche, man; Astané, Astané; ké, whom; dé, thou; mé, hast; véche, seen. . . . This is the house of the great man Astané, whom thou hast seen. . . . Esenale has told me that. . . . Esenale has gone away. . . . He will return . . . he will soon return . . . he will teach me to speak . . and Astané will teach me to write."
I have abridged this long monologue, constantly interrupted by silences, and the continuation of which I only obtained by having constant recourse to the name of Esenale as the magic word, alone capable of extracting each time a few words from Hélène's confused brain. After the last sentence or phrase, in which one can see a categorical prediction of the Martian writing, her weak, slow voice was finally hushed, and Leopold directs by means of his left middle finger the removal of the hand from the forehead. Then follow the customary alternations of lethargic sleep, sighs, catalepsy, momentary relapses into somnambulism, etc. Then she opens her eyes permanently, very much surprised to find herself in the easy-chair. Her brain is greatly confused. "It seems to me as though I had a great many things on my mind, but I cannot fix upon anything." By degrees she regains a clear consciousness, but of the entire seance, which has lasted an hour and a half, there only remain some fragments of Martian visions and no recollection whatever of the scene with Esenale and that of the translation.
This process of translation, the first application of which is here presented, becomes from this time the standard method.
For more than two years and a half, the imposition of the hand upon Hélène's forehead and the uttering of the name of Esenale at the proper moment during the trance constitute the "open sesame" of the Martian-French dictionary buried in the subliminal strata of Hélène's consciousness. The idea of this ceremonial is evidently to awaken by suggestionin a
certain favorable somnambulistic phase, which Leopold recognizes and himself announces by a gesture of the armthe secondary personality which has amused itself by composing the phrases of this extraterrestrial language.
In spiritistic terms, it amounts to invoking the disincarnate Esenale, otherwise called Alexis Mir-bel, who, having lived on both planets, can easily devote himself to the functions of an interpreter.
The only difference between this scene of translation and other seances is in the ease and rapidity with which it is performed. Esenale seems sometimes to be thoroughly asleep and difficult to awaken; Hélène persists in replying by the stereotyped refrain, and incessantly repeats, in her soft and melancholy voice, "Esenale has gone awayhe will soon returnhe has gone awayhe will soon return." Then some more energetic passes or friction on the forehead are necessary, instead of the simple pressure of the hand, in order to break up this mechanical repetition, which threatens to go on forever, and in order to obtain, finally, the repetition and translation, word by word, of the Martian texts. Otherwise the voice continues identical with that of the refrain, soft and feeble, and one can never know whether it is Esenale himself who is making use of Hélène's phonetic apparatus without modifying it, or whether it is she herself, repeating in her sleep what Esenale has told her; the categorical distinctness and absence of all hesitation in pronunciation of the Martian are in favor of the former supposition, which is also corroborated by the fact that
Click to enlarge
Fig 13. Martian landscape. Greenish-yellow sky. A man with a yellow complexion. dressed in white, in a boat of brown, yellow, black, and red colors on a blue-green lake; rose-tinted rock, with white and yellow spots; dark green vegetation; buildings of brown, red, and rose-lilac tints, with white window-panes and curtains of bright blue.
it was also in this same voice that Alexis Mirbel (Esenale) spoke to his mother in the scenes of incarnation. (See Fig. 13.)
It would be wearisome to recount in detail all the further manifestations of the Martian cycle, which occur frequently in numerous seances and also under the form of spontaneous visions in the daily life of Mlle. Smith. The reader can gain an idea of them both from the remarks of the following paragraph, as well as from the explanatory résumés added to the Martian texts, which will be collected in the following chapter. It merely remains for me to say a word here as to the manner in which the pictures of Hélène relative to Mars, and reproduced in autotype in the Figs. 9 to 20, have been made.
None of these pictures has been executed in complete somnambulism, and they have not, consequently, like the drawings of certain mediums, the interest of a graphic product, absolutely automatic, engendered outside of and unknown to the ordinary consciousness. They are nothing more than simple compositions of the normal consciousness of Mlle. Smith. They represent a type of intermediary activity, and correspond to a state of hemisomnambulism. We have seen above (p. 20) that already in her childhood Hélène seems to have executed various pieces of work in a semi-automatic manner. The same performance is often reproduced on the occasion of the Martian visions, which sometimes pursue her so persistently that she decides to execute them with pencil and brush; work which, in anticipation, often frightens her by its difficulty, but which, when
the time comes, accomplishes itself, to her great astonishment, with an ease and perfection almost mechanical. Here is an example:
One Tuesday evening, having already retired, Hélène saw on her bed some magnificent flowers, very different from ours, but without perfume, and which she did not touch, for during her visions she has no idea of moving, and remains inert and passive. The afternoon of the following day, at her desk, she found herself enveloped in a red light, and at the same time felt an indefinable but violent affection of the heart (aura of the voyage to Mars). "The red light continues about me, and I find myself surrounded by extraordinary flowers of the kind which I saw on my bed, but they had no perfume. I will bring you some sketches of them on Sunday." She sent them to me, in fact, on Monday, with the following note: "I am very well satisfied with my plants. They are the exact reproduction of those which it afforded me so much pleasure to behold [No. 3, in Fig. 16, which, beforehand, Hélène despaired of being able to render well], which appeared to me on the latter occasion, and I greatly regret that you were not here to see me execute the drawing: the pencil glided so quickly that I did not have time to notice what contours it was making. I can assert without any exaggeration that it was not my hand alone that made the drawing, but that truly an invisible force guided the pencil in spite of me. The various tints appeared to me upon the paper, and my brush was directed in spite of me towards the color which I ought to use. This seems incredible,
Click to enlarge
Fig. 9. Martian landscape. Pink bridge, with yellow railings plunging down into a pale-blue and purple-tinted lake. The shores and hills of a red color, no green being visible. All the trees are of a brick-red purple, or violet tint. [From the collection of M. Lemaître]
Click to enlarge
Fig. 15. Light-brown and yellow trunk and leaves double-lobed flowers of a vivid red, out of which proceed yellow stamens like black threads.
Fig. 16. Large leaves, light yellowish brown; flowers with purple petals with black stamens and black stems covered with little purple leaves like petals.
Fig. 17. Large violet fruit with black spots, surmounted by a yellow and violet plume, The trunk of brown color with black veins, with six branches of the same character ending in a yellow hook. Red-brick soil.
but it is, notwithstanding, the exact truth. The whole was done so quickly that I marvelled at it."
The house of Astané (Fig. 12), and the extensive landscapes of Figs. 13 and 14, are also the products of a quasi-automatic activity, which always gives great satisfaction to Mlle. Smith. It is, in a way, her subliminal self which holds the brush and executes, at its pleasure, its own tableaux, which also have the value of veritable originals. Other drawings, on the contrary (for example, the portrait of Astané, Fig. 11), which have given Hélène much trouble without having satisfied her very well, should be regarded as simple copies from memory, by the ordinary personality, of past visions, the memory of which is graven upon her mind in a manner sufficiently persistent to serve as a model several days afterwards. In both cases, but especially in the first, Hélène's paintings may be considered as faithful reproductions of the tableaux which unfold themselves before her, and consequently give us better than most verbal descriptions an idea of the general character of her Martian visions.
Let us see now what kind of information the messages and somnambulisms of Hélène furnish us in regard to the brilliant planet whose complicated revolutions formerly revealed to a Kepler the fundamental secrets of modern astronomy.
In using the word "romance" to designate the Martian communications, taken as a whole, I wish to state that they are, to my mind, a work of pure imagination, but not that there are to be found in them characteristics of unity and of internal co-ordination, of sustained action, of increasing interest to the final dénouement. The Martian romance is only a succession of detached scenes and tableaux, without order or intimate connection, and showing no other common traits beyond the unknown language spoken in it, the quite frequent presence of the same personages, and a certain fashion of originality, a color or quality badly defined as "exotic" or "bizarre" in the landscapes, the edifices, the costumes, etc.
Of a consecutive plot or intrigue, properly so called, there is no trace. I naturally speak only of that which we have learned from the seances of Mlle. Smith, or from the spontaneous visions which she recollects sufficiently to narrate afterwards. But this fails to shadow forth the hidden source whence they all spring.
Without determining the question, I am inclined, nevertheless, to accord to the Martian romance, in some profound stratum of Hélène's being, a much greater continuity and extent than would appear from judging it solely by the fragments known to us. We have only, in my opinion, a few pages, taken at hazard from different chapters; the bulk of the
volume is wanting, and the little we possess does not enable us to reconstruct it in a satisfactory manner. We must, therefore, be content with sorting this débris of unequal importance, according to their content, independently of their chronological order, and grouping them around the principal personages which figure in them.
The anonymous and mixed crowd which forms the base of some of the Martian visions only differs from that of our own country by the large robe common to both sexes, the flat hats, and the sandals bound to the feet by straps. The interest is confined to a small number of more distinct personages having each his own name, always terminating in an e with the men and in an i with the women, except only in the case of Esenale, who occupies, however, a place by himself in his quality of disincarnated Martian, fulfilling the function of interpreter. Let us begin by saying a few words about him.
We have seen (p. 164) that this name was hinted at by Leopold on the 22d of October, 1896, without any other explanation as a means of obtaining the signification of the Martian words. Then at the first recurrence to this talisman (November 2d, see p. 166) we learn only that he was a deceased inhabitant of Mars, whose acquaintance Leopold had recently made in interplanetary space. It was only at the following seance (November 8th), where we find Mme. Mirbel, that, after an incarnation of her son Alexis, followed by the scene of translation (see text 3) and
in response to questions of the sitterswhich answered very well the purpose of suggestionLeopold affirmed by the left index-finger that Esenale was Alexis Mirbel. It cannot be determined whether that identification constituted a primitive fact which it pleased Leopold to keep secret, only revealing it at the end of a seance at which Mme. Mirbel was present, or whether, as I am inclined to regard it, it was only established at that same seance, under the domination of the circumstances of the moment. As a translator of Martian, Esenale did not show great talent. He had to be entreated, and it was necessary often to repeat his name while pressing or rubbing Hélène's forehead, in order to obtain the exact meaning of the last texts which had been given. He possessed, it is true, an excellent memory, and faithfully reproduced, before giving it word by word, the French for the Martian phrases which Hélène had heard several weeks before and only seen again five or six months afterwards (text 24), and of which there had been no previous opportunity to obtain a translation. But it was to these latter texts, not yet interpreted, that he confined his willingness; on two occasions only did he add, of his own accord, some words of no importance (texts 15 and 36. Text No. 19, for instance, has always remained untranslated, and my later efforts (June 4, 1899) to obtain the meaning of the unknown words milé piri have been in vain; moreover, Esenale has not been able to fill up the gaps in text No. 24.
Alexis Mirbel, after the two first Martian seances,
reported on pp. 146 and 154, called Esenale, often accorded his mother, in scenes of incarnation, somewhat pathetic, touching messages of filial tenderness and consolation (texts 3, 4, 11, 15, and 18). It is to be noted that, although opportunities for continuing this rôle were not wanting, he appears to have completely abandoned it for the last two years: His last message of this kind (October 10, 1897, text 18) followed a month after a curious seance in which Leopold sought to explain to us spontaneouslyno one had mentioned the subjectcertain flagrant contradictions in the first manifestations of Alexis-Esenale. Here is a résumé of that scene, with the text of Leopold's communication:
September 12, 1897.After sundry waking visions, Mlle. Smith hears Leopold speaking; her eyes are closed, and, appearing to be asleep, she repeats, mechanically and in a slow and feeble voice, the following words, which her guide addresses to her: "Thou art going to pay close attention. Tell them now [the sitters] to keep as quiet as possible, that is what often mars the phenomena, the comings and goings, and the idle chatter of which you are never weary. You recollect there was, several months ago, a young man, that young man Alexis Mirbel, who came to give counsel to his mother at a reunion you held with M. (I do not understand the name he gave) . . . at Carouge * . . . Well, at that moment he happenedthat is to say, two days beforeto die on . . . (I could not understand
the name) . . . where he had been . . . or he had regained life. * This is why I have come to tell you to-day he was in that phase of separation of the material part from the soul which permitted him to recollect his previous existencethat is to say, his life here below in this state; he not only recollects his first mother, but can speak once more the -language he used to speak with her. Some time after, when the soul was finally at rest, he no longer recollected that first language; he returns, he hovers about (his mother), sees her with joy, but is incapable of speaking to her in your language. Whether it will return to him I do not know and cannot say, but I believe that it will. And now listen." Here Mlle. Smith seems to awake, opens her eyes, and has a long Martian vision, which she describes in detail. She now sees a little girl in a yellow robe, whose name she hears as Anini Nikaïné, occupied with various childish gamese.g., with a small wand she makes a number of grotesque little figures dance in a white tub, large and shallow, full of sky-blue water. Then come other persons, and, finally, Astané, who has a pen in his fingers, and, little by little, takes hold of Hélène's arm and throws her into a deep trance for the purpose of causing her to write text No. 17.
These spontaneous explanations of Leopold are interesting in that they betray clearly the subliminal desire to introduce some order and logic into the
incoherences of the mediumistic reveries. It is a form of the process of justification and retrospective interpretation intended to make the incidents of the past accord with the dominant ideas of the present (see p. 95). In appearance, the theory upon which Leopold rested, after having doubtless meditated long, is quite awkward; but perhaps it was difficult for him to do better, since no one can accomplish the impossible.
"The great man Astané" is the reincarnation on Mars of the Hindoo fakir Kanga, who was a devoted companion and friend of Simandini. He has preserved in his new existence the special character of savant or of sorcerer, which he formerly possessed in India, and he has equally retained all his affection for his princess of old, who has been restored to him in Mlle. Smith; he frequently utilizes his magic powers to evoke herthat is to say, to re-enter into spiritual communication with her, notwithstanding the distances between their actual places of habitation. The ways and means of that evocation remain, however, enveloped in mystery. We cannot say whether it was Hélène that rejoined Astané on Mars during her somnambulism, or whether it was he who descended "fluidly" towards her and brought to her the odors of the far-distant planet.
When Astané says to Hélène, during a seance: "Come to me an instant. Come and admire these flowers," etc. (text 8), or shows her the curiosities of his Martian abode, it seems as though he had really
called her to him through space; but when he appears to her, while awake, at the edge of her bathtub, and expresses his chagrin at finding her still on this miserable earth (text 7), it must be admitted that it is he who has descended to her and inspires her with these visions of an upper world. It is of no importance, on the whole. It is here to be noted that, in these evocations, Astané only manifests himself in visual and auditive hallucinations, never in tactile impressions or those of general sensibility; in the sphere of emotion his presence is accompanied by a great calm on the part of Hélène, a profound bliss, and an ecstatic disposition, which is the correlative and pendant of the happiness experienced by Astané himself (texts 10, 17, etc.) at finding himself in the presence of his idol of the past. The social state of AstanéI should rather say his name, his quality of sorcerer, and his previous terrestrial existence in the body of Kangawas not immediately revealed.
Nevertheless, at his first apparition (September 5, 1896, see p. 162), he rises superior to the crowd, inasmuch as he alone possesses a flying-machine incomprehensible to us. In the following weeks Mlle. Smith hears his name, and sees him again on many occasions, as well as his house (Fig. 12), but it is only at the end of two months and a half that his identity and his "evocative" powers become known, at a seance at which I was not present, and during which Hélène did not, contrary to her usual custom, fall completely asleep. The following is a résumé of the notes, which I owe to the kindness of M. Cuendet:
November 19, 1896.Contrary to the experience of the preceding seances, Mlle. Smith remained constantly awake, her arms free on the table, conversing and even laughing all the while with the sitters. The messages were obtained by means of visions and typtological dictations. Hélène having asked Leopold how it happens that she had been able to communicate with a being living on Mars, she has a vision in which Astané appears to her in a costume more Oriental than Martian. " Where have I seen that costume?" asks she; and the table replies, "In India," which indicates that Astané is an ex-Hindoo reincarnated on Mars. At the same time Hélène has a vision of an Oriental landscape which she believes she has already seen before, but without knowing where. She sees Astané there, carrying under his arm rolls of paper of a dirty white color, and bowing in Oriental fashion before a woman, also clothed in Oriental garments, whom she also believes she has seen before. These personages appear to her to be "inanimate, like statues." The sitters ask whether the vision was not a simple tableau (of the past) presented by Leopold; the table replies in the affirmative, then inclines itself significantly towards Mlle. Smith, when some one asked who that Oriental woman might be, and the idea is put forth that possibly she represents Simandini. Finally, to further questions of the sitters, the table (Leopold) dictates again that Astané in his Hindoo existence was called Kanga, who was a "sorcerer of the period"; then that "Astané on the planet Mars possesses the same faculty of evocation which he had possessed in India." Leopold is then
asked if the power of Astané is greater than his. "A different power, of equal strength," replies the table. Finally, Hélène desiring to know whether Astané when he evokes her sees her in her real character or that of her Hindoo incarnation, the table affirms that he sees her in her Hindoo character, and adds: "and, in consequence, under those characteristics which she [Hélène] possesses to-day and which are in such striking harmony with those of SimaNdini," insisting on the N in the middle of the name.
It is to be remarked that at this sitting it was Leopold who gave all the information in regard to the past of Astané, and that he recognizes in him a power over Hélène almost equal to his own. It is strange that the accredited guide of Mlle. Smith, ordinarily so jealous of his rights over her and ready to take offence at all rival pretensions, so freely accords such prerogatives to Astané. This unexpected mildness is still more surprising when the singular similarity of position of these two personages in regard to Hélène is considered. Kanga, the Hindoo fakir, holds in the life of Simandini exactly the same place as Cagliostro in the life of Marie Antoinette, the place of a sorcerer giving beneficial counsel, and at the same time of a platonic adorer, and both of them in their actual rôles of Astané and of Leopold preserve for Mlle. Smith the respectful attachment which they had for her illustrious former existences. How is it these two extra-terrestrial pretenders do not hate each other the more cordially since their rival claims upon Hélène have identical foundations? But, far from in the least disputing her possession, they assist each other
in the most touching fashion. When Astané writes in Martian by Mlle. Smith's right hand that the noise of the sitters threatens to make him insane (see text 20) it is Leopold who comes to his rescue in making them keep silent by his gestures with the left arm. When Leopold indicates to me that the moment for pressing Hélène's forehead has arrived, it is Astané who lends him his pencil in order that the message may be written (see below, seance of September 12, 1897, and Fig. 23), and the exchange of powers takes place between them without the medium experiencing the least shock, and without its betraying itself outwardly otherwise than by the difference of their handwriting. It is true that Leopold's apparitions to Hélène are infinitely more frequent and his incarnations much more complete than those of Astané, who shows himself to her at increasing intervals, and has never attained to speaking by her mouth. It makes no difference: these two personages resemble each other too much for mutual tolerationif they are really two.
My conclusion presses. Astané is, at bottom, only a copy, a double, a transposition in the Hindoo-Martian manner of Leopold. They are two variations of one primitive theme. In regarding these two beings, as I do, in the absence of proof to the contrary, not as real and objective individualities, but as pseudo-personalities, dream fictions, fantastic subdivisions of the hypnoid consciousness of Mlle. Smith, it may be said that it is the same fundamental emotion which has inspired these twin rôles, the details of which have been adapted by the subliminal
imagination to correspond to the diversity of the circumstances. The contradiction painfully felt between the proud aspirations of the grande dame and the vexing ironies of reality has caused the two tragic previous existences to gush forthintrinsically identical, in spite of the differences of place and epochof the noble girl of Arabia, having become Hindoo princess, burned alive on the tomb of her despot of a husband, and of her Austrian highness, having become Queen of France and sharing the martyrdom of her spouse.
On parallel lines, in these two dreams issuing from the same emotional source, it is the universal and constant taste of the human imagination for the marvellous, allied to the very feminine need of a respectful and slightly idolatrous protector, which on the one side has created out of whole cloth the personage of Kanga-Astané, and on the other hand has absorbed, without being careful in modifying authentic history, that of Cagliostro-Leopold. Both are idealistic sorcerers, of profound sagacity, tender-hearted, who have placed their great wisdom at the service of the unfortunate sovereign and made for her, of their devotion, amounting almost to adoration, a tower of strength, a supreme consolation in the midst of all the bitternesses of real life. And as Leopold acts as guide for Hélène Smith in the general course of her actual earthly existence, so Astané seemingly plays the sane rôle in the moments of that life in which Hélène leaves our sublunar world to fly away to the orb of Mars.
If, then, Astané is only a reflection, a projection
Click to enlarge
Fig. 12. House of Astané. Blue sky; soil, mountains, and walls of a red color. The two plants, with twisted trunks, have purple leaves; the others have long green lower leaves and small purple higher leaves. The frame-work of the doors, windows, and decorations are in the shape of trumpets, and are of a brownish-red color. White glass (?) and curtains or shades of a turquoise-blue. The railings of the roof are yellow, with blue tips.
Click to enlarge
Fig. 14. Martian landscape. Sky of yellow; green lake; gray shores bordered by a brown fence; bell-towers on the shore, in yellow-brown tones, with corners and pinnacles ornamented with pink and blue balls; hill of red rocks, with vegetation of a rather dark green interspersed with rose, purple, and white spots (flowers); buildings at the base constructed of brick-red lattice-work; edges and corners terminating in brown-red trumpets; immense white window-panes, with turquoise- blue curtains; roofs furnished with yellow-brown bell-turrets, brick-red battlements, or with green and red plants (like those of Astané's house, Fig. 12). Persons with large white head-dresses and red or brown robes.
of Leopold in the Martian sphere, he has there assumed a special coloring, and has outwardly harmonized himself with this new situation.
He is clothed in a voluminous, embroidered robe; he has long hair, no beard, a yellow complexion, and carries in his hand a white roll, on which he writes with a point fastened to the end of the index-finger.
His house (Fig. 12) is quadrangular, with gates and windows, and reminds one by its exterior aspect of some Oriental structure, with a flat roof embellished with plants.
The inside is also appropriate. The furniture recalls ours by force of contrast. We have few details; with the exception of a musical instrument with vertical cylinders, closely related to our organs, upon which Hélène sometimes sees and hears Astané playing, seated on a stool with one foot, resembling a milking-stool.
When we pass to the garden the same amalgam of analogies and unlikenesses to our flora are discovered. We have seen that Hélène has been often haunted in the waking state by visions of Martian plants and flowers, which she finally draws or paints with a facility approaching automatism; these specimens, as also the trees scattered over the landscapes, show that Martian vegetation does not differ essentially from ours. Of the animals we do not know much. Astané has often with him an ugly beast, which caused Hélène much fright on account of its grotesque formabout two feet long, with a flat tail; it has the "head of a cabbage," with a big
green eye in the middle (like the eye of a peacock feather), and five or six pairs of paws, or ears all about (see Fig. 18). This animal unites the intelligence of the dog with the stupidity of the parrot, since on the one hand it obeys Astané and fetches objects at his command (we do not know how), while, on the other hand, it knows how to write, but in a manner purely mechanical. (We have never had a specimen of this handwriting). (See Fig. 18.)
In fact, as to other animals, beyond the little black bird cited, without description (text 20), and a species of female deer for the purpose of nursing infants (text 36), Hélène saw only horrid aquatic beasts like big snails, which Astané caught by means of iron nets stretched over the surface of the water.
Astané's property is enclosed by large red stones, on the border of the water, where Hélène loves to retire with her guide to converse in peace and to recall to mind with him the ancient and melancholy memories of their Hindoo existence; the general tone of these conversations is entirely the same as that of her conversations with Leopold.
There is a mountain also of red rocks, where Astané possesses some excavated dwelling-places, a kind of grotto appropriate to the sorcerer-savant which he is.
The corpse of Esenale, admirably preserved, is also to be seen there, among other things, about which the disincarnate Esenale sometimes floats in "fluid" form, and which Hélène still finds soft to the touch,
Click to enlarge
Fig. 18. Astané's ugly beast. The body and tail are rose-colored; the eye is green with a black centre; the head is blackish; the lateral appendices are brownish-yellow, covered. like the whole body, with pink hair.
Click to enlarge
Fig. 11. Astané. Yellow complexion, brown hair; brown sandals; roll of white paper in his hand; variegated costume, or red and white; brick-red belt and border.
Click to enlarge
Fig. 19. Martian lamp, standing against a rose and blue-colored tapestry.
when, after much hesitation, and not without fright, she gained courage to touch it with the end of her finger, at the invitation of Astané. It is also in this house, excavated in the rock, that Astané has his observatory, a pit traversing the mountain, by means of which he contemplates the heavens (text 9), our earth included, by means of a telescope, which the beast with the head of a cabbage brings him.
To these qualities of savant Astané joins those of wise counsellor and of patriarchal governor. We also see a young girl named Matêmi coming to consult him frequently (texts 22 and 28), perhaps on matrimonial affairs, since Matêmi reappears on several occasions with her lover or her fiancé, Siké, and, among others, at a great family fête, presided over by Astané. (See Fig. 19.)
The following are some details concerning that vision, which occupied the greater part of a seance (November 28, 1897). Hélène sees, in a vast, red, initial light, a Martian street appear, lighted neither by lamps nor electricity, but by lights shining through small windows in the walls of the houses. The interior of one of these houses becomes visible to her: a superb, square hall, lighted at each angle by a kind of lamp, formed of four superposed globes,two blue and two whitenot of glass (Fig. 19); under each lamp a small basin, over which was a kind of cornucopia pouring forth water. There were many ornamental plants. In the middle of the hall, a grove, around which are placed a number of small tables with a polished surface like nickel. There are young people in Martian robes; young
girls with long hair hanging down their backs, and wearing at the back of the head a head-dress of roses; colored blue or green butterflies attached to the neck.
There were at least thirty speaking Martian (but Hélène did not hear them distinctly). Astané appeared "in a very ugly robe to-day," and showed himself full of friendly gallantry towards the young girls. He seats himself alone at one of the tables while the young people take their places at others, two couples at each. These tables are adorned with flowers different from ours: some blue, with leaves in the shape of almonds; others starry, and as white as milk, scented like musk; others, again, the most beautiful, have the form of trumpets, either blue or fire colored, with large rounded leaves, with black figures. (See Fig. 20.)
Hélène hears Astané pronounce the name "Pouzé." Then come two men in long white trousers with a black sash; one wears a coat of rose color, the other a white one. They carry ornamented trays, and, passing in front of each table, they place square plates upon them, with forks without handles, formed of three teeth an inch in length: for glasses they had goblets like tea-cups, bordered with a silver thread. Then they brought in a kind of basin a cooked animal resembling a cat, which is placed before Astané, who twists it and cuts it rapidly with his fingers, tipped with sharp silver tips; square pieces are distributed, among the guests, on square plates with furrows around the edges for the juice. Every one is filled with a wild gayety. Astané sits at each table in succession, and the girls pass their hands through his hair. New
Click to enlarge
Fig. 10. Flying-machine held by Astané, emitting yellow and red flames. [From the collection of M. Lemaître.]
Click to enlarge
Fig. 20. Plant of Martian design. Fire-red flowers; violet-gray leaves.
plates are brought, and pink, white, and blue basins tipped with flowers. These basins melt, and are eaten like the flowers. Then the guests wash their hands at little fountains in the corners of the room.
Now one of the walls is raised, like the curtain of a theatre, and Hélène sees a magnificent hall adorned with luminous globes, flowers, and plants, with the ceiling painted in pink clouds on a pink sky, with couches and pillows suspended along the walls. Then an orchestra of ten musicians arrive, carrying a kind of gilded funnel about five feet in height, with a round cover to the large opening, and at the neck a kind of rake, on which they placed their fingers. Hélène hears music like that made by flutes and sees every one moving; they arrange themselves by fours, make passes and gestures, then reunite in groups of eight. They glide about gently, for it could not be called dancing. They do not clasp each other's waists, but place their hands on each other's shoulders, standing some distance apart. It is terribly warm. It is "boiling hot." They stop, walk, talk, and it is then that Hélène hears a tall young brunette (Matêmi) and a short young man (Siké) exchange the first words of text No. 20. Then they depart in the direction of a large bush with red flowers (tamiche) and are soon followed by Ramié and his companion.
At this moment the vision, which has lasted an hour and a quarter, passes away. Hélène, who had remained standing during the whole description, now enters into complete somnambulism, and Astané causes her to write Martian phrases which she had
heard and repeated a short time before. During the entire vision Leopold occupied her left hand, which was hanging anæsthetically down her body, and replied by his index-finger to the questions which I asked in a low voice. I thus learned that this Martian scene was not a wedding, or any special ceremony, but a simple family fête; that it was no recollection or product of Hélène's imagination but a reality actually passing on Mars: that it was not Leopold but Astané who furnished this vision and caused her to hear the music: that Leopold himself neither saw nor heard anything of it all, yet knows all that Mlle. Smith sees and hears, etc.
This résumé of a family fête, presided over by Astané, gives the measure of the originality of the people of Mars. The visions relating to other incidents are of the same order: read the description of the Martian nursery (text 36), of the voyage in a miza a sort of automobile, the mechanism of which is entirely unknown to us (text 23), of the operation of chirurgery (text 29), of the games of the little Anini (p. 176, etc.). We see always the same general mixture of imitation of things which transpire among us, and of infantile modifications of them in the minute details.
Of the other personages who traverse the Martian visions we know too little to waste much time upon them. The name of the one who appears most frequently is Pouzé. He is present at the banquet, and
we meet him also in the company of a poor little withered old man with a trembling voice, in connection with whom he occupies himself with gardening or botany, in an evening promenade by the shore of the lake (text 14). He also figures again by the side of an unknown person named Paniné, and he has a son, Saïne, who had met with some accident to his head and had been cured of it, to the great joy of his parents (texts 23 and 24).
Finally, we must devote a few words to Ramié, who manifests himself for the first time in October, 1898, as the revealer of the ultra-Martian world, of which we shall soon take cognizance. Ramié seems to be a relative of Astané, an astronomer, not so brilliant as Astané, but possessing the 'same privilege, which the ordinary Martians do not seem to enjoy, of being able to take hold of Hélène's arm, and of writing with her hand. There is, to my mind, no fundamental difference between Leopold, Astané, and Ramié, in their relation to Hélène; they are only a reproduction in triplicate of one identical emotional relation, and I do not think I am mistaken in regarding these three figures as three very transparent disguises of the same fundamental personality, which is only a hypnoid subdivision of the real being of Mlle. Smith.
It is much wiser to leave to the futureif the Martian and ultra-Martian romances continue to developthe task of enlightening ourselves more completely as to the true character of Ramié. Possibly some day we shall also know more concerning the couple called Matêmi and Siké, as well as many
others, such as Sazéni, Paniné, the little Bullié, Romé, Fédié, etc., of whom we now know scarcely more than their names, and understand nothing in regard to their possible relationships to the central figures of Astané and Esenale.
The general ideas which the Martian cycle suggests will most assuredly differ, according to whether it is considered as an authentic revelation of affairs on the planet Mars, or only as a simple fantasy of the imagination of the medium; and meanwhile, holding, myself, to the second supposition, I demand from the Martian romance information in regard to its author rather than its subject-matter.
There are two or three points concerning this unknown author which strike me forcibly:
First: He shows a singular indifferencepossibly it may be due to ignorancein regard to all those questions which are most prominent at the present time, I will not say among astronomers, but among people of the world somewhat fond of popular science and curious concerning the mysteries of our universe. The canals of Mars, in the first placethose famous canals with reduplicationtemporarily more enigmatical than those of the Ego of the mediums; then the strips of supposed cultivation along their borders, the mass of snow around the
poles, the nature of the soil, and the conditions of life on those worlds, in turn inundated and burning, the thousand and one questions of hydrography, of geology, of biology, which the amateur naturalist inevitably asks himself on the subject of the planet nearest to usof all this the author of the Martian romance knows nothing and cares nothing. Questions of sociology do not trouble him to a much greater extent, since the people occupying the most prominent place in the Martian visions, and making the conversation, in no wise enlighten us as to the civil and political organization of their globe, as to the fine arts and religion, commerce and industry, etc. Have the barriers of the nations fallen, and is there no longer a standing army up there, except that of the laborer occupied in the construction and maintenance of that gigantic net-work of canals for communication or irrigation? Esenale and Astané have not deigned to inform us. It seems probable from certain episodes that the family is, as with us, at the foundation of Martian civilization; nevertheless, we have no direct or detailed information in regard to this subject. It is useless to speculate. It Is evident that the author of this romance did not care much for science, and that, in spite of her desire to comply with the wishes of M. Lemaître (see p. 149), she had not the least conception of the questions which arise in our day, in every cultivated mind, as to the planet Mars and its probable inhabitants.
Secondly: If, instead of quarrelling with the Martian romance about that which it fails to furnish us,
we endeavor to appreciate the full value of what it does give us, we are struck by two points, which I have already touched upon more than once in passingviz., the complete identity of the Martian world, taken in its chief points, with the world n which we live, and its puerile originality in a host of minor details. Take, for example, the family fête (p. 188). To be sure, the venerable Astané is there saluted by a caress of the hair instead of a hand-shake; the young couples while dancing grasp each other not by the waist but by the shoulder; the ornamental plants do not belong to any species known to us: but, save for these insignificant divergences from our costumes and habits, as a whole, and in general tone, it is exactly as with us.
The imagination which forged these scenes, with all their decoration, is remarkably calm, thoughtful, devoted to the real and the probable. The miza, which runs without a visible motor power, is neither more nor less extraordinary to the uninitiated spectator than many of the vehicles which traverse our roads. The colored globes placed in an aperture of the walls of the houses to light the streets recall strongly our electric lamps. Astané's flying-machine will probably soon be realized in some form or other. The bridges which disappear under the water in order to allow boats to pass (text 25) are, save for a technical person, as natural as ours which accomplish the same result by lifting themselves in the air. With the exception of the "evocative" powers of Astané, which only concern Mlle. Smith personally and do not figure in any Martian scene, there
is nothing on Mars which goes beyond what has been attained or might be expected to be accomplished by ingenious inventors here below.
A wise little imagination of ten or twelve years old would have deemed it quite droll and original to make people up there eat on square plates with a furrow for the gravy, of making an ugly beast with a single eye carry the telescope of Astané to him, of making babies to be fed by tubes running directly to the breasts of animals like the female deer, etc. There is nothing of the Thousand and One Nights, the Metamorphoses of Ovid, fairy stories, or the adventures of Gulliver, no trace of ogres nor of giants nor of veritable sorcerers in this whole cycle. One would say that it was the work of a young scholar to whom had been given the task of trying to invent a world as different as possible from ours, but real, and who had conscientiously applied himself to it, loosening the reins of his childish fancy in regard to a multitude of minor points in the limits of what appeared admissible according to his short and narrow experience.
Thirdly: By the side of these arbitrary and useless innovations the Martian romance bears in a multitude of its characteristics a clearly Oriental stamp, upon which I have already often insisted. The yellow complexion and long black hair of Astané; the costume of all the personagesrobes embroidered or of brilliant hues, sandals with thongs, flat white hats, etc., the long hair of the women and the ornaments in the form of butterflies for their coiffures; the houses of grotesque shapes, recalling the pagoda, kiosk, and minaret, the warm and glowing
colors of the skies, the water, the rocks, and the vegetation (see Figs. 13 and 14), etc.: all this has a sham air of Japanese, Chinese, Hindoo. It is to be noted that this imprint of the extreme East is purely exterior, not in any wise penetrating to the characters or manners of the personages.
All the traits that I discover in the author of the Martian romance can be summed up in a single phrase, its profoundly infantile character. The candor and imperturbable naïveté of childhood, which doubts nothing because ignorant of everything, is necessary in order for one to launch himself seriously upon an enterprise such as the pretended exact and authentic depictions of an unknown world. An adult, in the least cultivated and having some experience of life, would never waste time in elaborating similar nonsenseMlle. Smith less than any one, intelligent and cultivated as she is in her normal state.
This provisional view of the author of the Martian cycle will find its confirmation and its complement in the following chapters, in which we shall examine the Martian language, from which I have until now refrained.
140:* C. Flammarion, La Planète Mars et ses conditions dhabitabilité, p. 3. Paris, 1892.
157:* Compare the case of Mlle. Anna O. Brener et Frend, Studien über Hysterie, p. 19. Vienna, 1895.
175:* Allusion to the seance of November 25, 1894, at M. Lemaître's. See p. 146.
176:* That is to say, he died on Mars, where he had been reincarnated.
176: Allusion to seance of February 2, 1896. See p. 154.