Mental Magic in Animal Life
I have spoken of the manifestation of Mindâ€Power among the atoms and particles of matter, whereby the tiny corpuscles become aware of each otherâ€™s proximity, and whereby they move voluntarily in response to the desire aroused by the attraction or affinity of the other atoms; and whereby they also exert a pull or drawing power on the other atoms, and respond to the same attracting force of the other particle. Ascending the scale, we find the crystals building up their forms by drawing material from the fluids in which they are immersed, and then building upon a set pattern and style, as truly as does the builder among the animals or among men.
Passing on to the low forms of animal life, we find tiny lifeâ€forms in the slime of the oceanâ€bed, which are apparently no more than tiny drops of glueâ€”cells without a nucleusâ€” which nevertheless perform the functions of all organic forms, being born, taking nutrition, assimilating, eliminating, growing old, and finally dying, after reproducing their kind by growth and division. But, the point that most concerns us is that although these creatures have no senses, or even rudimentary sense organs, they are aware of the approach of other creatures, and of their food. In some way they become â€œawareâ€ of these thingsâ€”how, man does not know. Moreover they are possessed of the power of motion, and exert their will in the direction of moving from place to place. Some of these forms of life, when viewed under even a strong microscope are seen to move by gliding from place to place, apparently at will, and with no perceptible employment of organs of motion such as falseâ€feet, fins, etc. They seem simply to move by pure will. How do they do this? How do they become aware of the approach of other creatures, without senseâ€organs, or the rudiments of the same? It seems that mentation and telementation are manifested here.
Rising higher in the scale, we find many insects seemingly endowed with the faculty of becoming aware of the presence of other insects at distances so great as to render the ordinary senses of no avail. Students of antâ€life relate many remarkable instances of this kind. Ants at a distance seem to be able to communicate with their fellows, summoning assistance, and directing the movements of antâ€armies. A professor in an American university has related that upon one occasion he met with an instance of telementation on the part of a colony of ants. He stated that he had placed a breeding cage of ants inside of a stone house, the latter having walls sixteen inches thick, with no windows and but one door, the latter being so sealed and protected that it was impossible for even a tiny ant to enter its crevices. When approaching this house for the purpose of studying the progress of his ant colony, he would notice that other ants had collected on the outside of the walls, and were running about trying to get through the stone blocks. Then he tried the experiment of moving his antâ€cage from one part of the house to anotherâ€”first placing it beside one wall, and then another, and so on, trying all positions and places. In each case, after each change, when he would emerge from the house he would find the outside ants grouped on the stone wall as near to the inside ants as possible, changing their position from side to side according to the position of the antâ€cage inside of the house. Many other instances of the possession of the power of telementation on the part of ants have been noted. Another authority relates that a pair of foreign moths were brought to England. There were no other moths of that kind in the country. One of them, the male, escaped in a part of England many miles distant from the place to which the remaining moth, the female, was taken. The female moth was placed in a tiny cage for security, and then set outâ€ofâ€doors during the night. In the morning, much to the entomologistâ€™s surprise, he found the male moth clinging to the tiny cage which contained the female. It was the same male, undoubtedly, for in size, coloring, appearance, etc., it corresponded exactly; besides which there was not another moth of that particular species known to be in England. Similar experiments have been conducted with insects, and there is held to be ample grounds for believing that insects attract their mates by means of some mental power beyond the range of the ordinary senses.
Schools of fish seem to have some method of instantaneous communication between the individual fishes composing them, for the entire school moves from side to side, turning sharply, etc., as if it were possessed of but a single mind. Some scientists have held that many of the lower animals who live in groups, schools, etc., have mental relations similar to those of the colonies of cells which seem to have a common mind. There is undoubtedly communication over distance of the cells of the blood in animals, and the phenomenon of the school of fish, just noted, may be analogousâ€”at any rate, there is some sort of distant mental communication between the individual fishes. The same phenomenon is noted among flocks of birds, as many know who have witnessed the flights of large numbers of birds of different kinds. Wild animals undoubtedly have some subtle sense whereby they find each other when separated by long distances. The return of cats and dogs who have been carried miles from homeâ€”and the return of birds to their original places, after their migrations, may have a similar explanationâ€”there may be subtle vibrations from places, people, and objects, which the animals sense at a distance. That animals exert a mental control over their fellows by some form of manifestation of Mindâ€Power, there seems to be but little doubt among those familiar with the ways of animals, particularly of wild animals. There is a manifestation of something besides physical strength and prowess on the part of the animalâ€”there is a mental something displayed! A. E. McFarlane, in a recent magazine article on the subject of â€œBad Animals,â€ says: â€œPut two male baboons into the same cage, and they will open their mouths, show all their teeth, and â€˜blowâ€™ at each other. But one of them, even though he may possess the uglier dentition, will blow with a difference, with an inward shakiness that marks him for the under dog at once. No test of battle is needed at all. It is the same with the big cats. Put two, or four, or a dozen lions in together, and they also, probably without a single contest, will soon discover which one of them possesses the mettle of the master. Thereafter, he takes the choice of the meat; if he chooses, the rest shall not even begin to eat until he has finished; he goes first to the fresh pan of water. In short, he is â€˜king of the cage.â€™â€
Among the animals we find many instances of the power of â€œcharmingâ€ or â€œfascinating,â€ both of which I hold to be but varying forms of manifestation of Mindâ€Power in the direction of powerfully influencing the imagination, desire, or will of another by mentative induction. This mental fascination, among the animals, manifests along two lines, viz., (1) along the lines of desire operating in the direction of sex manifestation, such as the winning of mates, etc.; and (2) along the lines of will operating in the direction of overcoming the prey of the animal, such as the â€œcharmingâ€ of birds by serpents, or of smaller animals by tigers, etc. These cases are capable of liberal illustration and proof, and natural history affords us full authority for accepting the same.
I recently read an account of a naturalist, who related that one day in a tropical country he noticed a winged insect circling around and around a scorpion. After a bit, the insect made a series of desperate plunges at the scorpion, as if in a frantic desire to terminate the charm; the scorpion soon striking down the insect, and afterwards devouring it. It is related by travelers that when one comes suddenly in the presence of a lion, tiger, or leopard, his legs seem paralyzed, and the eyes of the beast seem to exert a peculiar fascination and power over him. I have seen a mouse manifest the same emotion in the presence of a cat; and the same is true of a rat in the presence of a ferret, or similar enemy. On the other hand, every observer has noticed the wonderful â€œcharmingâ€ power that animals exert over others of their kind, of the opposite sex. If you have ever witnessed the courting of a bird, during the mating season, you will have a keen sense of the reality of the power employed. One of the birds, and it may be either a male or female, will be seen to actually â€œfascinateâ€ or â€œcharmâ€ the one of the opposite sex, the latter lying still with quivering wings, and a helpless expression in its eyes. When compared with the attitude of the same bird, when charmed by a serpent, the resemblance will be striking.
I have before me a book written in 1847, which relates quite a number of instances of the operation of mental fascination among the lower animals. I will give you a few of them, condensed, and abbreviated. Prof. Silliman is quoted as stating that one day, while crossing the Hudson River, at Catskill, he passed along a narrow road with the river on one side, and a steep bank, covered by bushes, on the other side. His attention was attracted by the sight of a number of birds, of a variety of species, who were flying forward and backward across the road, turning and wheeling in strange gyrations, and with noisy chirpings, seemingly centering over a particular point of the road. Upon examination the professor found an enormous blacksnake, partly coiled, and partly erect, showing an appearance of great animation, with his eyes flashing like a brilliant diamond, and his tongue darting in and out. The snake was the center of the motion of the birds. The professor adds that although the snake disappeared in the bushes, frightened at the approach of the men, still the birds seemed too dazed to escape, and perched on the nearby bushes, evidently awaiting the reappearance of their â€œcharmer.â€ The same book relates an incident of a man in Pennsylvania, who saw a large blacksnake charming a bird. The bird described gradually decreasing circles around the snake, at the same time uttering piteous cries. It seemed almost ready to drop into the jaws of the snake, when the man drove off the latter, when the bird arose with a song of joy.
Another case is related of a groundâ€squirrel, which was observed running toâ€andâ€fro between a creek and a large tree a few yards distant. The squirrelâ€™s fur was badly ruffled, and he exhibited fright and distress. Investigation disclosed the head and neck of a rattlesnake, protruding from the hole of the tree, and pointing directly at the squirrel. The poor squirrel at last gave up the fight, and yielding to the fascination, laid himself down with his head very close to the snakeâ€™s mouth. The snake then proceeded to swallow the squirrel, when his meal was interrupted with a cut of a carriage whip in the hands of the observer, and the squirrel, released from the spell, ran briskly away.
Dr. Good is quoted as having made quite a study of the curious fascinating power that rattlesnakes manifest over small animals, such as birds, squirrels, young hares, etc. He relates that these animals seem incapable of drawing their eyes away from those of the snake, and, although seemingly struggling to get away, they still gradually approach the snake, as though urged toward him, or attracted by a power superior to their natural instincts. He goes on to state that the animal creeps nearer and nearer, until at last it is drawn into the serpentâ€™s mouth, which has been open all the while to receive it. Dr. Barrow is quoted as relating many instances of this kind, known to peasants in all parts of the world. Valliant, the African traveler, tells of an instance in which he witnessed a shrike in the very act of being fascinated by a large snake at a distance, the fiery eyes and open mouth of which were gradually approaching the bird, the latter manifesting convulsive trembling and uttering piercing shrieks of distress. The traveler shot the snake, but upon picking up the bird, he found it deadâ€”killed either by fear or the power of the serpent, or perhaps by the violent breaking of the spell. He measured the distance between the snake and the bird and found it to be three and oneâ€half feet. A case is related in one of the early reports of the Philosophical Society, in which a mouse was put in a cage with a viper, by way of an experiment. The mouse at first seemed greatly agitated, which state was followed by a condition of fascination, the mouse drawing nearer and nearer to the viper which remained motionless with distended jaws, and glistening eyes. The mouse, finally, actually entered the jaws of the viper, and was devoured.
Bruse, the African traveler, relates that the natives of an interior tribe seem to be protected by nature against the bite of scorpions and vipers. They are said to handle these creatures fearlessly, the latter seeming to be robbed of their power of resistance. He states that the creatures seem to sicken the moment they are touched by these natives, and are sometimes so exhausted by the invisible fascinating power that they perish shortly. He says, â€œI have constantly observed that however lively the viper was before, upon being seized by any of these barbarians, he seemed as if taken with sickness and feebleness, and frequently would shut his eyes, and would never turn his mouth toward the arm that held him.â€
Personally, I have seen a somewhat similar case. When I was a boy, in Maryland, I knew of a farmhand who was called a â€œsnakeâ€charmer.â€ How he did it, I never could find out, but he would exert some kind of influence over all kinds of snakes, poisonous ones included, and would cause them to remain fascinated until with a quick movement he would grab them by the neck with his bare hands. This man generally carried a few pet snakes around with him for company. They seemed perfectly contented, and would poke their heads up from out of his pockets, in order to look at some one else with whom he might be talking. The negroes on the farm had a mortal terror of this man, and would walk a couple of miles rather than pass by his house. The power of charming animals, dogs and wildâ€beasts is undoubtedly possessed by some men, in varying degrees. And nearly everyone has known of men who could â€œcharmâ€ the wildest horses, as if by magic. I have read of some burglars who seemed able to quiet the most ferocious watchâ€dogs. The Swedish writer, Lindecrantz, tells of certain natives of Lapland who are possessed of some process of charming dogs, to such an extent that they have been known to cow the most savage greatâ€hound, causing him to fly from them with all the signs of abject fear. Many of my readers have seen, or heard of, the horse â€œwhisperersâ€ found in various parts of the country, who will shut themselves in a stable with a fierce horse, and by â€œwhisperingâ€ to him will manage to tame him completely, and make him passive to their will.
There are cases recorded in which men who have been â€œcharmedâ€ by a snake, have afterwards given in their experience. One of these cases relates that the man was walking in his garden when he suddenly came into the presence of a snake whose eyes gleamed in a peculiar manner. He found himself fascinated, as if by a spell, and unable to withdraw his eyes from those of the creature. The snake, he stated afterward, seemed to begin to increase immensely in size, and assumed, in rapid succession, a mixture of brilliant colors. He grew dizzy and would have fallen in the direction of the snake, had not his wife approached, throwing her arms about him, and breaking the spell. Another similar case is related, in which a man found his companion standing still on the road, with his eyes fixed intently upon those of a huge rattlesnake which was regarding him fixedly with gleaming eyes, scintillating in its raised head. The man was leaning toward the snake, and would have fallen toward it in a few moments. He was crying, feebly, but piteously, â€œHe will bite me! He will kill me!â€ â€œSure, he will,â€ replied his friend, â€œwhy donâ€™t you run away? Why are you staying here?â€ But the man seemed perfectly dazed, and distracted, and could not answer. The companion finally picked up a stick and struck at the snake, which glided away savagely. The fascinated man was sick for several hours afterward. When I was a boy, I had a somewhat similar personal experience, although not nearly so serious. Walking one day among a grove of trees belonging to my grandfather, I found myself standing staring intently at a snake about two feet long whose eyes glistened like large diamonds. In a moment I ceased to see anything but those awful eyes which glistened and displayed all the prismatic colors to my frightened glance. It lasted but a moment, however, for the snake glided away, seemingly as anxious to get away from me as I was to part company with him. I cannot say whether the spell would have been broken by me, if the snake had not moved awayâ€”perhaps it might, or perhaps not. All that I remember now, after the passage of thirtyâ€five years or more, is that I did not seem to feel fear after the first shock, my feeling and emotion seemingly being that of great wonder, and amazement arising from what I saw in those eyes.
But I have said enough regarding the manifestation of mentative induction among the lower animals. There are many interesting instances of this sort, scattered through the pages of books on animal life, and nearly everyone who has lived in the woods, or among wild life knows of many cases illustrating this fact which have come under his own observation. I have mentioned these features of the subject merely for the purpose of showing you that we have to deal with a general natural principle which manifests throughout all life. This book has to deal with the manifestation of this force among men. But in closing this chapter, I would ask you to notice the resemblance between the manifestation of the force among the animals, on the one hand, and among mankind on the other. The animals employ the force for two purposes, i. e., the captivating of mates, and the capture of prey. And how do men and women use it? Along similar lines! Yes, I mean this, as startling as it may appear. For is not the use of fascination, in the direction of attracting the other sex akin to the sexâ€charming noticed among the birds and animals? And is not the use of fascination in the direction of influencing men and women along the lines of business, or personal interest, akin to the â€œcharmingâ€ of prey by wild animals, serpents, etc.? You may see that evolution simply changes the form of use in this and other natural qualities, and powerâ€”the force or power remaining the same, under all of the changes. And, does it not become important for us to understand, study, and guard ourselves against the employment of such an elemental force as this, which manifests along all planes of life, from lowest to highest?