Prescott Hall and Minnie Keeler communicate with ‘soi-disant Oriental masters’ on the mechanisms of OBEs
Type of Spiritual Experience
Most of this communication from ‘the dead’ is simply mind reading. There is one very funny passage – ‘Hyslop was impressed by the scope, literacy, and spontaneity of the communications’ – nothing like hearing your own ideas fed back to you.
The apparent communication with the deceased Miss X is a little less savoury, although as long as Hall was comforted by it, it probably did no harm and given that Minnie Keeler did all this for free shows there was no money motive.
There is ambiguity in the following sentence “she… put Hall in touch with several soi-disant Oriental masters, who began communicating through Minnie Keeler”. Were they alive?
My guess is that they were alive, but this is actually quite a feat, even though it is still simple inter composer communication. More like a conference call than a simple telephone conversation.
They don't sound like 'soi-disant orientals' to me. I've no doubt they were communicating to Minnie in English too, given this level of complexity.
The efficacy of the instructions IS NOT PROVEN. But there is some corrobarative evidence for a few of the methods, so we have given the full description.
But this observation does tend to show that one should not believe random communications transmitted via a medium. It is not Minnie's fault, she is simply a channel. But those on the other end - who were they?
A description of the experience
David Scott Rogo - Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection
Prescott Hall, an amateur psychic investigator from Brookline, Massachusetts, and a member of the American Society for Psychical Research, was initially quite sceptical when it came to psychic phenomena, but was nonetheless intrigued by the claims of two acquaintances who maintained that they could leave the body at will.
Both gentlemen also claimed that they had used their abilities of astral projection to contact new dimensions of time and space and make contact with disembodied spiritual intelligences.
Hall did not know what to think of these stories, but he remained open-minded about them . . . enough, at least to consult a medium on the subject.
ln 1902, Hall had investigated an amateur medium in Boston, who had brought through some extremely evidential communications from his own deceased friends and relatives. Minnie Keeler was a homemaker, mother, and nonprofessional psychic who had developed her gifts after her husband's death. We know relatively little about her except that Prof. James Hyslop, the president of the A.S.P.R. and a critical student of the field, knew her well and had known her since the initial development of her gifts. He thought highly of her. Keeler, like most mediums of her day, would enter a light trance in order to bring through messages from the dead. Voluminous "spirit teachings" from these communicators were also delivered. By its very nature, little of the latter material was evidential, but Hyslop was impressed by the scope, literacy, and spontaneity of the communications.
Prescott Hall resumed his experiments with Minnie Keeler in 1909, and a deceased friend of his, whose identity he unfortunately kept confidential, began communicating. (ln his reports, Hall refers to her only as Miss X,) His conversations with Miss X through the dissociated Keeler often focused on the subject of astral projection, and this gave him the idea for a curious experiment. lf Keeler's communicators could supply him with methods for inducing OBEs not to be found in published occult writings, there might be an easy way to test out their credibility. lf the methods worked, then obviously this information was somehow supernormally communicated through the medium. lf not, the teachings were probably produced by her own unconscious mind.
During one of the sittings, Hall broached this plan to Miss X. She was intrigued with the idea and put Hall in touch with several soi-disant Oriental masters, who began communicating through Minnie Keeler regularly. Included among their voluminous messages were several comments and suggestions for inducing OBEs, as well as lectures on the nature of the astral body and the spiritual life. These communications were delivered to Hall at weekly intervals from I909 to 1915. A year later, he published two lengthy but very disorganized summaries of the teachings in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. Hyslop added a commentary in which he pointed out that, although nonevidential, he could not see how the teachings could have been a product of Mrs. Keeler's own mind.
This may seem an odd stand to take, but one must remember that the mediums of yesteryear were quite different from those of today. Many of them were totally nonprofessional. They did not give public demonstrations, accept fees, or proffer their services to strangers. Usually they discovered their gifts accidentally at table-tilting seances or other social gatherings, and viewed them more with amusement than anything else.
As mentioned earlier, the Keeler system is not well organized, nor was it ever presented in a formal plan. But by reading through all of Halls published writings on the communications, one finds that a detailed system for inducing OBEs was delivered piecemeal during the course of the Keeler sittings. The first attempt to codify these suggestions was made by Dr. Robert Crookall in 1964, but even his presentation is very unsystematic and unsatisfactory.
The Keeler system is roughly composed of three concordant aspects.
- Adjusting the diet - The first is a diet plan that the student must follow in order to achieve the ability to have OBEs. This phase is crucial to the success of the entire system, although it has usually been downplayed by those few writers aware of this material.
- Visualisation - The second part of the system consists of several specific visualization exercises that the student should employ after he or she has been on the diet.
- Controlled breathing - The third part concerns certain breathing exercises to be executed at the same time as the visualization techniques.
No one aspect of the system was given special emphasis. Summarizing from Hall's writings, the diet can be constructed as follows:
Adjusting the diet
- The student should begin by either fasting or by cutting down intake.
- No food of any sort should be eaten just before on OBE attempt. Overeating may bar any success at OBE travel
- No meat should be eaten during the training program.
- The diet should consist mainly of fruits and vegetables.
- Carrots are extremely beneficial.
- Raw eggs are favorable to the diet and to OB release.
- No nuts of any kind are to be eaten,
- Peanuts are especially bad.*
- Liquids of all types are beneficial, but are not to be used in excess.
*l have placed peanuts in a separate category since they are not actually nuts but belong to the pea family.
At face value, there does not seem to be anything surprising in this diet. It is generally balanced, and one young doctor to whom I showed it (without commenting on what it was meant for) noted how close it was to the famous Scarsdale Diet. His only question was why poultry wasn't included! The diet is not exclusive, either. According to Minnie Keeler's communicators, it need be followed only during the student's initial training period. After he or she has learned or acquired the ability to leave the body, the diet may be disregarded. There is, however, a correlary to the diet. During the time of experiments, the student is to abstain completely from all alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
The Oriental masters who so readily shared their wisdom with Hall also explained something about the actual mechanisms of astral projection.
The chief means of leaving the body is through the head, they maintained, and sometimes the projector will experience him- or herself spinning out of the body. Hall had no way of knowing that Crookall would verify this fact many years later. His case studies include 29 incidents in which the reporters specifically described leaving the body through the head.
These were physical sensations, too, and not just images. Having experienced this phenomenon myself, I can vouch for how stunning the effect can be. It often feels as if your inner self were being sucked out right through a hole in the top of your head! lt is, no doubt, for this reason that Hugh Callaway suggested leaving the body by focusing attention toward that point.............
…..on one occasion, Keeler's Oriental masters told Hall that OBEs sometimes occurred as a result of undergoing anesthesia. They warned, however, that such OBEs are less vivid and more unfocused than OBEs that occur more naturally.
This seems to be true. We now know that many people undergo OBEs during the administration of ether, nitrous oxide, or sodium pentathol. Both Crookall and Green collected many such reports in their work. Crookall found 46 such cases in his initial collection of 382 accounts, which, therefore, constitute 12 percent of his sample.
Prescott Hall experimented with these exercises for several years, beginning with their initial inception in 1909. …. Keeler's communicators advised him at the onset of his sittings that his ‘ecsomatic vehicle was very strongly attached to his physical body’ and that he would have a difficult time learning to project.
Hall apparently had his first partial success in September 1909. He reports in his diary that, while visualizing, he felt that his physical body was "falling down and away." He also noted a definite feeling that he was not in the body at all. Hall does not mention just how long the sensation lasted. During some experiments he conducted in October, he had similar success. He felt as though he were being drawn out of his body during his exercises and thought he was actually being pulled out of his body by an unseen force. His diary entries for March 1910 reveal that he was beginning to experience odd sinking sensations during his experiments.
Unfortunately, Hall apparently never succeeded in having a full-blown OBE. He did have some peripheral or incipient OBEs, but was never able to get over the "hump" and experience true conscious out-of-body travel.