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Practical Occultism

J. J. Morse

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Practical Occultism: A survey of the whole field of mediumship through the trance mediumship of J. J. Morse, was first published in 1888. The book consists of seven lectures: Lecture I. The trance as the doorway to the occult. Its magnetic, natural, and spiritual forms of induction; Lecture II. Mediumship: its physical, mental, and spiritual conditions; Lecture III. Mediumship (continued): its foundation, development, dangers, and advantages; Lecture IV. Magic, sorcery, and witchcraft; Lecture V. The natural, spiritual, and celestial planes of the second state; Lecture VI. The soul world; its hells, heavens, and evolutions; and, Lecture VII. Life, development, and death in spiritland.

This book has 70 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1888.

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Excerpt from 'Practical Occultism'

Our topic is "The Trance as the Doorway to the Occult," dealing with it in its natural, magnetic, and spiritual methods of induction, and endeavouring, as a consequence, to show you what a wondrous and marvellous doorway into the unseen there is treasured within the life possibilities of all humanity; for we hold it as one of the cardinal principles of being, that the constitution of humanity at large is practically a unit in its character, that there is no possibility pertaining to any one of the children of earth that is not also latent in all other of earth's children.

The variations of development, the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of individual character, and the opportunities of exercise, alone constitute the differentiating conditions which give to one a seeming excess of development, and to another no apparent manifestation at all. But, by and by, in the progress of humanity, when the laws of being are more correctly and truly understood, it will be found how each and all of you, within the measure of your capacities, in accordance with your possibilities, and in relation to your requirements, will be able to develop all the possibilities that are latent in humanity, collectively as well as individually. Then, mystery, and all the results of ignorance and superstition shall be banished from the pathway, and the unseen and spiritual life of man, with all its qualities and attributes, shall stand revealed as plainly and as clearly to the understanding as do your surroundings in the external universe to-day.


The trance condition is the warrant of death and the prophecy of futurity. It is, in its revelation of the higher capacities of human nature, the measure and certain indication, the hand-post, as it were, upon the highway of eternal life, pointing to the mountains of wisdom, that he, perhaps, still enshrouded by the mists of ignorance, and thereby concealed from the understanding of humanity to-day. We are aware that this is a great and somewhat startling claim, but yet we think the matters we are about to present will more than justify it; for you will bear in mind that if death be an impassable gulf over which the spirit can never return to mortality, there can be no sort of evidence presented in this world that can tell you what is upon the other side of that gulf.

But if there can be a miniature representation of, or a correspondence to, that phenomenon which is called death, then there is a vindication of death, an interpretation of its issues, and explanation of its consequences; and if that miniature representation can be experienced by the individual and he return to human life and consciousness again, two ends are gained; first, the realisation of an existence of himself apart from his external and material body with its out-ward consciousness; secondly, his ability to triumph over the limitations of his material environments, and then return to all its possessions in their fullness and entirety.

Thus you see that virtually the trance, which is this miniature representation of death, gives you the key by which you may transcend the environments of mortality and ascend into the domain of spirituality. It is, indeed, the doorway to the occult, to that which is hidden from the ordinary investigation and outward consciousness; a passage-way from the realm of action upon the external side of life to the realm of action upon the internal side of life; but in every case its opening depends upon your own organic constitutions, your mental, nervous, and spiritual possibilities and environments—the means upon which you will be dependent to open this portal for yourselves.


All life, intelligence, and conscious action, so far as man is concerned is, as you know, a duality; it has its outward expression upon the plane of physical existence, as well as it has its interior or spiritual expressions of which you alone are conscious. All that your fellows outside of yourself can know of you is that amount of your spiritual self which expresses itself in your actions and your speech; but even these are cumbered, covered up, obscured, and diverted, by the external causes impinging upon your actions and life from day to day.

Therefore it is possible that one may grasp your hand, gaze into your eyes and hear your voice day after day for years, and be no nearer knowing you than had you never met. But could you find a way by which you could enter into each other's essential nature, by which you could spiritually come en rapport, then, perchance, it might be discovered that you were altogether a different kind of person beneath the outward seeming—that you had altogether a different identity; that there was a better part of you—a more wonderful part, a part removed from the external life, a spiritual part that was struggling and striving, imperfectly, alas! in many cases, to make itself known through the outward manifestations of sense and thought and action.

Some there are (more perhaps than might be expected) whose inner natures flash and glow through the outward forms of life and conduct; and these royal souls are among the leaders, heroes, and the nobler sorts of men; and when you clasp their hand you feel the power of this inward something magnetically beating upon your own pulses, echoing in the chambers of your mind, and flashing before the windows of your own souls. But, alas! these better sorts of people are, in the main, few and far between to-day, for this reason: the outward cares of life often blunt and dull the finer sensibilities of human nature, so that but little of this better part of man can find expression in the daily life of humanity at large.


But there is this doorway to your better selves. Not only is it true that you are sometimes as sealed books to your fellows, but you are also sealed books, to a large extent, to yourselves. Let us illustrate the point. You are engaged in a harsh round of toil; duty presses heavy upon you and weighs your spirit down, and you have no time or leisure for reflection or meditation; every moment of your day is occupied, and at night when you seek your couch for rest, brain and body are alike too tired to think or meditate, and you welcome as the best relief, the oblivion sleep can give. But, by and by, there comes a time when your affairs change and you can rest, and then you begin to think; reflection asserts her power, meditation becomes frequent, loving influences brood upon your soul; and straightway you begin to realise there are faculties, powers, and possibilities in your nature that you have scarcely ever dreamed of before.

Production notes: This edition of Practical Occultism was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 17th June 2018, and updated on the 14th April 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Hypnosis at Schrenck-Notzing's' by Albert von Keller.

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