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Vampire Essay, 1896

This paper by Dr. Franz Hartmann, while attempting to apply a scientific analysis of vampirism, tends to fall into the long-winded idealized pseudo-science common in 19th century mysticism, still common today. Applying broad phrases like 'another centre of conciousness... is called into existence,' Hartmann attributes vampires to a class of spirits who effectively mirror the afflicted individual, be they living or dead.


Franz Hartmann, M.D.

From Borderland: a quarterly review and index, Volume 3, edited by William Thomas Stead, 1896

Everyone who, for a long time, in a rational manner and without prejudice, investigates the phenomena of spiritism, will, sooner or later, meet in them some perplexing element, which cannot be explained by the theory of "departed spirits," nor by the "sub-conscious" mental action, nor by "telepathy," nor by any other of the manifold theories that have been invented for the purpose of explaining these phenomena by the conscious or unconscious action of powers inherent in the constitution of man; there always comes in at a cetain period a foreign element which seems to have a will, if not an intelligence of its own; such as does not naturally belong to the "medium," and which cannot be an angel, nor a "departed human spirit," but which rather seems to belong to some fool or idiot, playing pranks on the astral plane. In fact, we may say, that while upon the terrestrial plane, in our daily life, we continually are surrounded by a multitude of illusive appearances, errors, and falsehoods, each containing a kernel of truth, on the astral plane we meet with an endless array of undeniable facts and apparent truths, each of which, if closely examined, is found to be based upon a kernel of truth.


Let me explain what I mean. There is, for instance, Mr. H. B. Foulke, of Philadelphia, who receives oil-paintings that have been undoubtedly produced in an occult manner through the mediumship of Mrs. Betse; they are well excecuted, but they never are what they claim to be, for there is one representing the "wife of Pythagoras," who presumably was never married, another represents "Jacob Boehme in his college costume," while it is certain that Boehme was a poor shoemaker, who never went to college; there are "Mahatma letters" that are perfectly "genuine," except in so far as they have never been written or even indicated by a Mahatma; there are innumerable tests of spirit identity, absolutely satisfactory to a superficial observer, but found to be sadly wanting in truth, when closely examined. In most instances it seems as if a host of lying spirits were assuming the true masks of known persons; the act is often perfect, but the actor behind the mask is not what he represents himself to be, although many a deluded person, being delighted with the idea of communicating with a beloved friend or relative, is most unwilling to incur the risk of finding himself deceived. Whenever the communicating spirit represents himself in the garb of a spirit-lover or spirit-bride, human vanity becomes excited to the highest pitch, and a cure is almost impossible. Such persons regard doubts about the identity of their "spirits" as being blasphemy and herresy of the worst kind.


All these perplexing things, however, become plain if we accept the doctrine of mischievous elementals inhabiting the astral plan, of whom the occultists of the middle ages have written a great deal, whose nature H. P. Blavatsky has more clearly explained than any other writer, and who have also been referred to in Mr. Leadbeater's rehearsal of occult teachings concerning the inhabitants of the astral plane. The acceptance of that doctrine makes at once explainable many otherwise "unexplainable" facts, such as the exhibitions of superhuman strength by Miss Emma Abbott, &c., in regard to which H. P. Blavatsky says:-

"They have no forms, and in trying to describe what they are, it is better to say that they are 'centres of force,' having instinctive desires but no consciousness, as we understand it. Others, of certain elements and species, change from under a fixed law which Kabalists explain. The most solid of their bodies is ordinarily just material enough to escape perception by our physical eyesight, but not so unsubstantial but that they can be perfectly recognized by the inner or clairvoyant vision. They not only exist and can all live in either, but can handle and direct it for the production of physical effects, in which occupation they are readiliy helped by the 'human elementaries' or 'shells.' More than this, they can so condense it as to make for themselves thangible bodies, which by their protean power they can cause to assume such likeness as they choose, by taking as their models the portraits they find stamped in the memory of the persons present."

And again, H. P. Blavatsky says in regard to those elementals who exhibit great physical strength:-

"Poruthu Madon is the 'wrestling demon,' he is the strongest of all, and whenever there are feats shown in which physical force is requried, such as levitations, or by taming wild animals, he will help the performer by keeping him above the soil, or will overpower the wild beast," &c.

But it is of another kind of "spirits" that I wish to speak, and which are the more dangerous as they appear under the alluring mask of "spirit-brides" and "spirit-lovers" but which are nothing else but vampires, extracting vitality from those whom they obsess, and through them, from all with whom they come into contact. These vampires are exceedingly numerous, and I have had ample opportunity to observe during a twenty years' investigation of spiritism the detrimental effects of vampirism. If, in the following pages, I do not give the exact names of the person referred to, it is for obvious reasons; but I am willing to reveal these names confidentially to anybody, provided that it is of importance that he should be made acquainted with them.


I am not the only person to whom a great many spiritually-inclined people are known to claim to live on most intimate terms of soul communion and even bodily intercourse with their "duals." They are always in communication with their unseen friend, and it would be useless to attempt to persuade them that they are labouring under an hallucination, and that the "spirit" is a creation of their own fancy. They feel the presence of that "spirit," they ask him questions and he answers them, they converse with him, and many instances are known in which such "spirits" have "materialized" and been seen objectively, not only by the mediums themselves, but also by other persons present. In olden times such observing elementals, if male and attached to a woman, were called "incubi," if female and attached to a man they were called "succub." The history of mediaeval witchcraft is full of accounts of their doings; neither can any intelligent reader studying that history set down all the reported cases as being lies and superstitions due to ignorance. There were as intelligent men at those times as there are now, and on the whole there was more known at those times about the occult laws of nature than is known at present, and if our modern investigators would take the trouble to study the works of Theophrastus Paracelsius, they might find many a problem already solved, over the solution of which they are vainly breaking their heads.


Persons obsessed by a vampire may be very intellectual and refined, but they are always sensually inclined people, and usually given to secret vices. To a sensitive person the shake of their hands feels clammy and cadaverous. If you are for a long time in their presence you will feel exhausted; it is as if they were drawing strength from you. It is also very likely that after you leave them you will be for a few days in a very bad humour, liable to quarrel and to find fault, and not unfrequently it happens that a person having been in company of such a "medium" will feel strongly inclined to commit suicide. Many are even driven to suicide by such vampires, without knowing the source of that influence. Moreover, the abstraction of vitality does not necessarily cease upon leaving the presence of the "medium"; the connection once formed the vampire will follow you to any distance and abstract life from you. A case is known to me in which a previously healthy young lady, after visiting such an obsessed person, experienced a continual loss of vitality, causing a waste of flesh amounting to about three pounds per week.


The vampire draws strength from its medium. For this reason such mediums usually have a voracious appetite, they sleep a great deal; but, nevertheless, they do not grow strong, but are always exhausted and unfit for fatiquing or continuous labour. They are irritable, highly emotional, ready to shed tears for insignificant reasons, loving solitude, and finding their greatest comfort in the intercourse with their duals. Being continually vampirized they in their turn unconsciously vampirize every sensitive person with whom they come into contact, and they instinctively seek out such persons and invite them to stay at their house. I know of an old lady, a vampire, who thus ruined the health of a lot of robust servant girls, whom she took into her service and made them sleep in her room. They were all in good health when they entered, but soon they began to sicken, they became emaciated and consumptive, and had to leave the service. Two of them died shortly after.


A young lady at G-- had an admirer who asked her in marriage, but as he was a drunkard she refused and married another. Thereupon that lover shot himself, and soon after that event a vampire, assuming his form, visited her frequently at night, especially when her husband was absent. She could not see him but felt his presence in a way that could leave no room for doubt. The medical faculty did not know what to make out of the case, they called it "hysterics" and tried in vain every remedy in the parmacopoeia, until she had at last had the spirit exorcised by a man of strong faith. In this case there is an elemental making use of, and being aided by, the elementary of the suicide.


A miller at D__ had a healthy servant boy, who, soon after entering service, began to fail. He had a ravenous appetite, but nevertheless grew daily more feeble and emaciated. Being interrogated, he at last confessed that a thing which he could not see, but which he could plainly feel, came to him every night and settled upon his stomach, drawing all the life out of him, so that he became paralyzed for the time being, and could neither move nor cry out. Thereupon the miller agreed to share the bed with that boy, and proposed to him that he should give him a certain sign when the vampire arrived. This was done, and when the sign was given the miller grasped an invisible but very tangible substance that rested upon the boy's stomach, and although it struggled to escape, he grasped it firmly and threw it into the fire. After that the boy recovered, and there was an end of these visits. Those who, like myself, have on innumerable occasions removed "astral tumors," and thereby cured the physical tumors, will find the above neither "incredible" nor "unexplainable." Moreover, the above accounts do not refer to events of the past, but to persons still living in this country.


A woman in this vicinity has an incubus, or, as she calls it, a "dual," with whom she lives on the most intimate terms as wife and husband. She converses with him and he makes her to the most irrational things. He has many whims, and she, being a woman of means, gratifies them. If her dual wants to go to see Italy "through her eyes," she has to go to Italy and let him enjoy the sights. She does not care for balls and theatres; but her dual wants to attend thm, and so she has to go. She gives lessons to her "dual," and "educates" him in the things of this world, and commits no end of follies. At the same time her "dual" draws all her strength from her, and she has to vampirize everybody with whom she comes into contact to make up for the loss.


But how do such vampires grow, or how are they attracted? In the human system are contained all the seeds for good and for evil, and those that are cultivated grow by attracting the elements corresponding to their own nature from the astral plane, in the same way as a seed in the earth attracts its appropriate elements from the earth. The power that stimulates the seed of a plant to grow is the sunshine, the power that causes a psychic germ to develop is thought. If the sexual instinct of a person is very strong and cannot be gratified or overcome, the mind rests upon it, until the thought causes it to grow. It attracts from the astral form corresponding elemental forces, which take shape in the organism of the medium, are supplied with his own vitality and assume a form according to his own imagination. Thus the form of the elemental may be a product of the patient's fancy, but its substance is real; it is like every other creature, a manifestation of individual will and thought.


But there are also other cases of vampires, and space permits me to mention only typical ones as samples of certain cases.
In Vienna a certain lawyer became very much incensed against another lawyer on account of the loss of a lawsuit. The second lawyer, whom I will call T., was a very strong and healthy man, but at the beginning of December, 1888, he suddenly began to grow more and more feeble, day by day, nor could the doctors find out any cause for it; while he himself said he felt as if every day a portion of blood were drawn from him. During the month of December, the other lawyer, his enemy, whom I will call H., and who had previously been in feeble health, grew daily more strong, and went on a pleasure trip to Meran. On December 20th, 1888, Mr. T. died from exhaustion, after asserting that he had been vampirized by H. From that day Mr. H.'s health began to fail, and on January 1st, 1889, a telegram came from Meran announcing his death. As a matter of course, in this case the scientific proof, such as the sceptic wants, is missing, but to those present all the little details and circumstances connected with the case, and which cannot here be entered into, were sufficient to convince them that it was a case of vampirism by the living.
All such things become very easily explainable as soon as we accept as a working hyphothesis the sevenfold classification of the principles of the constitution of man as taught by H. P. Blavatsky, and previously to her, although not so plainly, by Theophrastus, Paracelsus, and others. A knowledge of the odic odor, "ethereal body," solves many a problem; but if we wish to explain such phenomena while we ignore all that is not already accepted by official science, we will never find our way through the mysteries presented by the "nightside of nature." Mere external observation does not go to the root of a thing, and a science that is proud of ignoring is no science at all.


But there are also vampires of the grave. They used to be known by the name of "ghouls." H. P. Blavatsky calls such beings the "Shudala Madan," and says that "he delights where crimes and murder were committed, near burial places and places of execution." It may be this demon elemental that sucks the vitality of living people and feeds the corpse in the the grave to which he is attached, thus keeping up an appearance of life in the corpse. This is rather a disgusting subject, but, for all that, this does not prevent the facts being true. This vampirism of the grave became, at one time, of such an epidemic character, and so many people became victims of it, that it was made the subject of an official investigation by the authorities in Kisolova, in Hungary, also in Meduegga, in Servia, and other places, on which occasion the most horrible details were brought to light. Those interested in such things may find ample material for investigation in Professor Maximilian Perty's book Mystiche Erscheinungen in der Natur. Some cases are also described in H. P. Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled.


Elementals are semi-intelligent forces of nature, which may become personified in man, and a person obsessed by such an elemental is himself, to a certain extent, that elemental personified. The elemental having originally no individual life of its own, in becoming individualized in man, absorbs from his life, and is endowed by him with his own consciousness. In this way another centre of conciousness, besides his own, is called into existence in a person, and thus may arise many of the perplexing cases of double consciousness which have not yet been satisfactorily explained, and which never will be fully understood as long as we leave out of consideration one of the prominent factors in the production of physical phenomena, namely, the elemental spririts of nature.
The proper place to study the nature of obsessing spirits would be within the precincts of insane asylums, and if their nature were known a most important factor would be added for the treatment of insanity. At present the principal cause of insanity is ignored by medical science, and thus medical science deprives itself of some of the means of accomplishing the object of its existence.

Hallein, Austria. Feb. 14th, 1896.

Hartmann also makes some broadly sweeping slaps at 'official science' and medical science, as well as the limitations of science based on observation. Apparently intuition about invisible forces is more valid than the application of the scientific method.

Hartmann appears to have been involved early in the Theosophical society, founded in 1875 by H. S. Olcott, among others.