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Observations placeholder

Martineau, Harriet - Letters on Mesmerism - Transfiguration



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Letters on Mesmerism – Harriet Martineau

On Saturday, June 22nd, Mr. Spencer Hall [the hypnotherapist] and my medical friend came, as arranged, at my worst hour of the day between the expiration of one opiate and the taking of another. By an accident, the gentlemen were rather in a hurry-a circumstance unfavourable to a first experiment. But result enough was obtained to encourage a further trial, though it was of a nature entirely unanticipated by me. I had no other idea than that I should either drop asleep or feel nothing. I did not drop asleep, and I did feel something very strange.

Various passes were tried by Mr. Hall; the first that appeared effectual, and the most so for some time after, were passes over the head, made from behind,-passes from the forehead to the back of the head, and a little way down the spine. A very short time after these were tried, and twenty minutes from the beginning of the seance, I became sensible of an extraordinary appearance, most unexpected, and wholly unlike anything I had ever conceived of. Something seemed to diffuse itself through the atmosphere,-not like smoke, nor steam, nor haze,-but most like a clear twilight, closing in from the windows and down from the ceiling, and, in which one object after another melted away, till scarcely anything was left visible before my wide-open eyes.

First, the outlines of all objects were blurred ; then a bust, standing on a pedestal in a strong light, melted quite away ; then the opposite bust; then the table with its gay cover, then the floor, and the ceiling, till one small picture, high up on the opposite wall, only remained visible,-like a patch of phosphoric light. I feared to move my eyes, lest the singular appearance should vanish; and I cried out, “O! deepen it!I deepen it l" supposing this the precursor of the sleep.

It could not be deepened, however; and when I glanced aside from the luminous point, I found that I need not fear the return of objects to their ordinary appearance while the passes were continued. The busts reappeared, ghost-like, in the dim atmosphere, like faint shadows, except that their outlines, and the parts in the highest relief, burned with the same phosphoric light. The features of one, an Isis with bent head, seemed to be illumined by a fire on the floor, though this bust has its back to the windows.

Wherever I glanced, all outlines were dressed in this beautiful light; and .so they have been, at every seance, without exception, to this day; though the appearance has rather given way to drowsiness since I left off opiates entirely. This appearance continued during the remaining twenty minutes before the gentlemen were obliged to leave me. The other effects produced were, first heat, oppression and sickness, and, for a few hours after, disordered stomach; followed, in the course of the evening, by a feeling of lightness and relief, in which I thought I could hardly be mistaken.

The source of the experience

Martineau, Harriet

Concepts, symbols and science items





Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Reiki (Reiji-hō)