Rosicrucian Writings Online

My Personal Experiences

By H. Spencer Lewis, F. R. C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest October 1931]
(NOTE--This series of articles will present the strange and mystical experiences which may come to one who has gradually attuned himself to the higher or more subtle forces existing around us. Perhaps some of our members have had identical experiences and the explanation given by our Imperator in connection with the ones he has had will help our members to understand some of the laws that are possibly involved. These experiences will be presented in the form of one complete story in each issue for the next few months. Many points connected with each of these experiences are difficult to explain and still remain in the realm of the unknown. You may take the Imperator's partial explanation and accept it or you may reject it. He is merely offering his personal opinion while he still holds an open mind and is seeking through tests and experiments to determine the exact nature of whatever principles or laws were actually involved in these experiences. Incidentally, these experiences show what may come into the life of a person who is Cosmically or psychically attuned and who is in constant contact with conditions, persons, and places throughout the country, and while holding the position he holds in relation to the work of this organization--Editor.)
Number 3--THE WITCH
MANY years ago while living in New York City, I received a very cordial invitation from our members on the Pacific Coast to pay an official visit to California and especially to visit the two or three lodges which we had in the southern part of that state. I finally decided that I would make the trip, providing I could get away from my business affairs long enough to visit some of the branches on the Pacific Coast instead of just the two or three that had united in the very fine invitation. I found I was able to get away early in the spring, and in the month of March, right after the Easter holiday, I started south from New York on the Pennsylvania railroad in the midst of a very severe snow storm and very cold weather.
I was pleased as I travelled southward toward New Orleans to come into milder weather and enjoyable scenery. After reaching New Orleans I decided to stay over night in that city in order to visit a branch of our work there and the next morning I was taken to the railroad station of the Southern Pacific lines to board my train going westward. I arrived at the station fully a half hour before the departure of the train and since there were a great many tourists, I decided to get aboard the train and sit on the rear observation platform in order to secure and hold a seat. As the time drew near for the departure of the train I was impressed more and more with the pitiful sight of the many persons who came to that train on crutches or on the arms of other persons, or in wheel chairs, and even on stretchers. It seemed to me that the train was going to become a hospital train, and inquiry revealed that most of these ill persons were going to Arizona or California, because of certain tubercular or other conditions which could be helped by the climate of those states.
I noted one case in particular of an old man who was brought by some uniformed attendants on a stretcher and lifted into one of the cars and then left alone. I had a compartment on the train all to myself, and I noticed that this man had been placed in a lower berth of the body of the car among many other sick persons, and that he was extremely sick and in a very pitiful condition, coughing extremely hard and with every indication of great pain. As noon time approached and I looked out from my compartment doorway at the end of the car and saw these many sick persons around me, each trying to help the other, I felt that as a Rosicrucian I must go out among them and see what I could do. Surely, here was a Cosmic call, if ever there was one.
I noticed that there was one nurse in the car accompanying one sick person, and that she had already donned her uniform and was busy in a professional way. She had been engaged by one of the sick persons but all of the other patients in the car thought that she was a nurse in employ of the railroad, and were continually asking her for some help, and she attempted to politely inform them that her services belonged exclusively to the one patient, although she did make some suggestions and offer some help to a few of the sick women.
My attention was attracted first of all to the old man to whom I have referred. He was at least sixty years of age and looked much older. There was an air of culture and refinement about him, and in all of his sickness and pain he was attempting to make himself look tidy and to restrain any annoyance that he might be causing others, and I sat down beside him to talk about his case. He told me that he was alone in the world, that his wife and children had passed on some years ago, and that through business reversals due to his bad health he had to finally accept the hospitality of the county poor house. He had entered that place with all of his savings amounting to several hundred dollars, which he turned over to the organization for his care, but a few months after being placed in the home, his tubercular trouble developed to such a degree that they decided that he would have to go to some hospital, or if he wished to do so could go to one of the semi-charitable places in Arizona. The purse of money that he had given to the institution would pay for his carfare to Arizona, and for his care for a little while, and so the attendants at the institution had placed him aboard the train and had said goodbye to him, and he was on his way, alone, sick, hopeless, and dejected. He was much worse off than anyone else on the train because most of the others had someone with them, either mother or father, husband or wife, and none of them were quite as ill or as old as he. As I looked at his watering eyes and the trembling hands, I could not help but think of my own father, well and strong back in New York, and of others who were dear to me, and no older than he, and yet in perfect health, and I felt a special interest in him.
I, therefore, offered to let him have my compartment in exchange for his lower berth, because in my compartment he could lie comfortably all day in a bed and have an electric fan, and other special facilities, and I could also be with him and treat him. I began that very noontime by getting him some appropriate food and then giving him treatments according to our principles every hour of the afternoon and evening, and finally at 8:00 o'clock in the evening I saw him tucked into bed for the night while I slept outside in a berth. I did not hear him cough during the night even when the train was standing still, and early in the morning I went to his room and found him much brighter than he had been the day before, and he confessed to me that he had slept longer and better than for many a night.
For two days I kept up the treatments and the nourishing food, especially giving him some delicacies that tempted his appetite along with other foods that were helpful during such treatments as I was giving to him. I felt that the Cosmic was using me as a channel for the transmission of stronger treatments than I had ever noticed passing through me in any previous case, and I was delighted. When we reached a station in Arizona where he had to change cars, I assisted in having him taken out on to the platform and engaged a taxi cab to transfer him, for he was now able to sit up and to walk a little, and did not need to be carried on a stretcher. I made arrangements with a representative of the railroad company to see that certain things were carried out and planned to get in touch with the institution where he was going to see that he was given the proper food, for I planned to carry on the treatments for many weeks, believing that he would recover and become strong enough to go back to New Orleans.
As I shook hands with the old man and the tears ran down his cheeks in an attempt to express his appreciation, he promised to write to me or have somebody write to me once a week letting me know how he was and he gave me a small ring from his hand to keep as a token. It was a silver band upon which there were some faint markings either of a decorative or symbolical nature, which I could not decipher in want of a magnifying glass. He frankly told me it was not a costly thing, and that he was only giving it to me as a keepsake that I might be mindful of him. I placed it upon my little finger, and then shook hands with him again and his last words were, "The only benediction that I can give in return for what you have done is this, may God bless she who loves you the most." I saw the taxi cab go away from the station and I went on my way in the train, helping the others as much as I could, having the satisfaction of seeing some hemorrhages stopped, and some terrible coughing modified, and other direct benefits of Cosmic healing. I arrived in Los Angeles in due time and after a day or two of official activity with our organization in that city I wended my way toward a city further south. I am purposely avoiding the name of this city because of the events that occurred, for I do not want to attract undue attention to a certain home in a certain city.
I arrived in this city about 6:00 o'clock in the evening and was met by a committee at the depot who escorted me to a hotel where an elaborate banquet had been arranged for 7:00 o'clock in my honor. After the banquet I was taken by the committee to a very large hall to make a public address regarding our work and I found there an assemblage of five or six hundred persons representing the most intellectual and cultured people of the city.
At the close of the lecture the committee and a large number of the members accompanied me to the hotel again where we sat around and enjoyed a social visit with ice cream and light refreshments, for the weather was extremely warm.
About 11:30 in the evening I admitted that I was somewhat tired and would enjoy retiring for the night. The committee asked me whether I preferred to go to a hotel or to a private home. They explained that there was a private home available where in a wing of the building I would be all alone with the same service that a hotel would afford, and yet with the same privacy and perhaps a little more of the luxury of a private estate, because the home was on the edge of a beautiful park. I felt instantly that there was some preference in the minds of the committee and that they would like to have me go to the private home, possibly because it was the home of one of the officers or members of the organization who had some desire for having me visit the home, and that I should be adding to their joy by accepting the invitation. I have always preferred being alone in hotels rather than the guest at anyone's home, and especially on official visits being located at a hotel in the heart of a city makes it possible for all of the members to come to see me and to arrange the interviews in rapid succession and thereby contact as many members as possible in a short time.
I did not think to ask the name of the host and hostess when I was taken to the large home that was situated in the middle of lawns that seemed to reach in all directions, and being late at night and busy talking to those who were with me in the automobile, I did not notice the name or nature of the station through which we drove, and was really unaware of my location until I found myself being escorted from the automobile up a long pathway to the main entrance of a very large house. After a few minutes' conversation with my host and hostess to whom I had been introduced very early in the evening, along with a hundred others whose names I had also forgotten, I was taken through a number of rooms to a wing of the house, and then taken upstairs to a very attractive oriental den room that seemed to occupy the whole of the second floor of the wing. My host and hostess pointed out to me the fact that there were many windows in the room overlooking the park, that there was a private bath, and other conveniences, and that I would be absolutely alone and undisturbed so far as the rest of the household was concerned. In fact, they said to me that I could even go out in the morning or during the night without passing through the rest of the house by way of the windows and a balcony, which led to a private stairway.
After bidding them goodnight and unpacking some of my satchels which had been brought to the room, I opened wide the windows and finally stepped out on to the balcony and was pleased to note that this private balcony had a stairway leading down into the yard, and that I really was quite separated from the rest of the home.
Turning my attention to the room itself, I found that it was part of an attic that had been turned into a den by a partial false ceiling decorated in old fashioned beam style with some panelling in wood and soft tints on the plaster, and with oriental rugs and draperies, and very antique furniture. The room felt to me as though it was quite old in all of its fittings, and after a little examination I decided that practically everything in the room was an antique of some kind. The hostess had explained to me that the room had been idle for a year and that since they had joined our organization they had fitted it up in this oriental style for a study room and as a sanctum, but that it had not yet been used for that purpose and that they wanted me to be the first one to spend a night in it and then perhaps in the morning at sunrise give it my benediction and blessing, and thus make it appropriate for use as a sanctum. I believe that this was the reason why they had invited me to their home and it was not the first time that I had been invited to a home for a similar purpose.
Feeling that I was going to spend a night in very appropriate surroundings and wondering whether some of the things might not have come from Persia or the Orient, especially the rugs and draperies, I turned out the lights and threw myself upon the bed, thoroughly tired and ready to attend to the treatments and midnight work of contacting various of our members with whom I was conducting experiments or whom I had promised to help.
As I was lying there in the dark getting ready to attune myself with the Cosmic, I thought first of all of the old man and realized that it was time to give him a treatment. Unconsciously I felt of the silver ring on my finger which he had given to me and thought of how this ring would help me to reach him as well as reach the Cosmic, and so throughout my treatment I held my fingers on the silver ring which was wedged quite tightly on the small finger of my left hand. After giving him the treatment, I answered the needs of perhaps a dozen others and then offered my psychic consciousness to the Cosmic for whatever services it might require of it and fell asleep.
About 2:00 o'clock in the morning I was awakened. I know the time because in a few moments the chimes of an old clock in the room struck twice. I was awakened by a very definite sense of depressing and annoying vibrations in the room. Very often when I sleep for the first night at a hotel or in some private room I am slightly annoyed by the difference in vibrations, but I soon overcome these and become adjusted to the conditions. In this case, I could not sleep and I wondered whether I should get up or try to overcome the conditions.
After struggling for fully fifteen minutes and doing my utmost to go back to sleep, I got up and walked about the room in the very faint moonlight that came in through the open windows and finally went out to the balcony to admire the deep shadows and silver spots of the moonlight and the effect of it upon the lawns and trees around the house.
Having enjoyed the air for a few minutes I returned to my bed and was about to force myself into sleep again when I noticed there was a figure moving across the room as though it had come from the bathroom near the foot of my bed. I saw that the door to the balcony was still closed and since it had a spring lock upon it, it was impossible for anyone from the outside to come in, unless he had a key, but I was sure also that this figure had emanated from the bathroom.
As I looked more closely, I saw it was a transparent figure and I knew at once that it was a psychic visitor that I had seen and not a human one. However, the figure was short and bent over, and seemed to be covered with some very large piece of material of a dark nature. As I watched the figure moving about as though busily engaged in attending to things in various parts of the room, I noticed that the room itself now appeared quite different. I saw that the furniture was different, although very vague, and indefinite in its coloring and detail. The large old-fashioned or antique dresser that had been in the room at the foot of my bed earlier in the evening was gone entirely, and in its place a very common looking bureau. I noticed also that there were two trunks of an old style like painted chests that were in one part of the room where a chair had been before. Turning over on my right side so that I could view the whole room easily and watch what was going on, I saw that the figure paid no attention to me, even when it turned in my direction, and realized, of course, that a psychic figure would pay no attention to a human being unless it had some message for it.
Finally, the figure went over to one of the trunks and lifted the lid and began to take out some small things which were placed upon the floor. In this moonlight I could see the outline of the figure a little better, and noticed that it was a figure of a woman very old with gray hair and a very hatchet shaped face with deep lines, and many wrinkles. I saw that she was stooped and quite shaky in her actions. Her entire appearance gave me the impression of the proverbial witch, and I instantly classified her as such. Finally, she took from somewhere in the shadows of the room a stand of some kind and brought it out into the center of the open part of the room and I could see that it was a stand made of four pieces of iron fastened together with bands of some kind, making a thing that looked much like a tripod, except that it had four legs instead of three. It appeared to be about thirty-six to forty inches high with a large bowl of metal on the top. Immediately, I thought of the old iron stands that held bowls in which flower pots could be placed and then associating this thing with the life of a witch I thought of an incense burner of some kind.
Just at this point in my reasoning the figure began to pour something from a bottle into the bowl and then place some other objects in it, and in a few moments lighted this with a taper which she had previously lighted with a match. As the chemical in the bowl began to burn much like alcohol would burn, only with longer flames of a yellow color instead of blue, I saw that she was standing in a position so that her face was held over the flames and with her two hands extended in front of her, while she chanted. It was a peculiar blood curdling sort of a chant and had a very depressing effect upon me in that dark room. By the light of the flames I could see that her eyes were cruel in their expression and that she was angrily chanting something. As I listened to it, an inner psychic interpretation of her chanting seemed to come to me and it appeared that she was condemning or attempting to blaspheme somebody or something, and finally it occurred to me that she was practicing one of the ancient witch arts of Black Magic or trying to do so, and that whatever she was doing was intended to be an evil curse upon someone. I almost laughed out loud as this thought came to me, because I know how foolish such a thing is and how ineffectual such practices can be in reaching anyone, and doing anyone any harm, but it dawned upon me that some of the old witches and many men and women of today are foolish enough to believe in such things and actually practice such processes and so I thought I would wait and see the outcome of it.
Suddenly, the flames leaped high in the air and there was a sort of an explosion and the old woman's figure fell back on the floor with a gasp and a cry, and a real loud thud. The flames instantly died down and before they were entirely out, I leaped out of bed and rushed toward the figure on the floor, forgetting for a moment that I was witnessing only a psychic vision. However, I plunged myself into the vibrations of the etheric mass that had been acting in front of me, and I was shocked until my nerves felt as though every one of them had been impinged by some tweezers and caused them to ache as the nerve in a tooth aches. If I had been shocked and my brain or heart pierced by a bullet, I could not have had a greater shock than at the moment I plunged into those psychic vibrations, but the shock was over instantly and as it passed away, I saw the figure at my feet fading out and in a moment there was nothing more to be seen than the faint outlines of the articles in the room that were lighted by the moonlight.
Turning on the electric light I found that the room was undisturbed and that there was nothing unusual in any part of it. Realizing that it was a psychic experience again like many others I had had in my life, I went out on the balcony for a while and enjoyed the fresh air and then went back into the room and sat down at a table and wrote a letter to my wife. My watch showed it was ten minutes after three in the morning, and I dated my letter that hour and explained to her exactly what I had seen just as I am explaining it here. That letter was mailed early in the morning before breakfast because I arose early and went down the private stairway and walked until I found a letter box and deposited it so that it would be on its way and be a record of this event and an explanation of my experiences in case any other things should happen or some event occur which might affect my health or even my life. Returning to the house an hour later for breakfast I had the pleasure of asking my host and hostess about the room and its previous history. The story they told was entirely satisfactory and gave a complete explanation of what I had witnessed.
The Explanation
According to my host and hostess, the house they occupied had been owned for many years by a large family and the children had married and left until there were parts of the house unused, and one day a woman asked permission to rent the wing of the house for her own private use. She claimed to be a midwife and some sort of a healer. Because there was a private stairway, which could be used without going through the house, it was considered desirable to rent these rooms for a semi-business purpose as the old woman suggested. After she had been living there for a while everyone in town became acquainted with the fact that the woman was advertising herself as a fortune teller. She told fortunes by cards, by tea leaves, palmistry, astrology and any or every method that anyone would suggest. In fact, no matter what anyone went there to get and had the money to pay for was delivered to them with some or no satisfaction. She also practiced a little healing and claimed to make preparations of her own out of herbs and extracts from them. Persons who had visited her said that she had many chemical contrivances about the room and that her room looked more like a witch's den than anything else, and that the woman herself was old and wrinkled and had such peculiar vibrations that she frightened most people who stayed with her an hour or more for her readings, because she invariably entered into what she called a trance state and chanted and made incantations and often burned peculiar incense and other chemicals in a large urn which she stood in the middle of the room.
It appeared that after she had been practicing her art for several years that some sailors called upon her one day for some information and that one of them had stolen from her some old jewelry or what-nots and that she had reported it to the police and to others and had sworn that she would get even and that she would destroy these sailors by her black art. About this time, a man and woman also visited her for advice. They were an elderly couple and had been visiting in California and were on their way home in the east. The advice that the woman gave them was so remarkable that they paid her well and the witch claimed afterwards to the police who tried to arrest her for obtaining money in this manner that she had not accepted the money for her advice but for a silver ring, which she had sold to the gentleman and which was a good luck ring because it had some sacred symbols on it that would always bring him good luck, and would keep him in good health. The police continued to persecute her, however, and she blamed all her trouble upon the two sailors that had robbed her, and so she began to hold nightly sessions of Black Magic against them. On one occasion near midnight, everyone in the neighborhood was startled by hearing an explosion and seeing a bright light formation in the windows of this upper story. Rushing up the stairway from the outside, the people of the neighborhood found the old witch on the floor lifeless with the hair around her face badly singed, her face badly blackened, and the old cauldron on the four-legged stand still hot and smoking from some fire that had been burning in it. This was the end of her attempts at Black Magic. As is always the case, the curse and the evil she had been wishing upon someone else had destroyed her. The witch was buried by the county in the cemetery for the poor, for she had a little money left among her personal belongings and the place was cleared out and the man and woman who owned the house sold it, since they did not care to live there in such vibrations, and with so large a place. The present owners of it had bought it after it had stood idle a year but had never fixed up the upper room in that wing because they had no need for it until they had joined our organization, and then almost forgetting entirely the old story of the witch, they had planned to make it a den. The witch, on the other hand, had evidently wanted to tell her side of the story and explain how her death had come about, and, therefore, her personality had returned to this room on an occasion when it felt that someone would listen, and watch, and understand.
The interesting point, however, is one that is surprising and will probably astonish my readers. As I was told about the old witch and the man who had received a silver ring from her, I looked to my hand to see if it might be the ring that I had upon my little finger, and lo and behold, the little silver ring was gone. It could not have slipped off because it was wedged on tightly and I searched all over the room for it, and had others help me. Two days later I received a letter from the old man in Arizona written by a nurse stating that on the very night when this strange occurrence took place, he had a great change come over him for the better, and that he was now able to move around on the lawns of the hospital, and that money was being sought to pay his way back to New Orleans where he could live with some friend who would be able to take care of him, since he was now improving in health. I sent some money to pay for his carfare back to New Orleans and to this day I hear occasionally from the old man who is well, indeed. I have never forgotten his benediction and blessing upon the one who loves me most of all and I have felt that there was a protecting influence that the Cosmic has seen fit to fulfil in exchange for what I tried to do for him.

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