The Cause of the Shadow

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Cause of the Shadow is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in The Occult Review in july 1926.

The Cause of the Shadow

The Occult Review (july 1926, p. 42-44)

To the Editor of the Occult Review.

Sir, — I have read the article by E. A. Chaylor in your last issue, with much of which I am in sympathy. I also have every reason to believe that the human race is in danger and that some great trial is coming to the world. This trial will be altogether good in its objects and results, but will be exceedingly severe during the time that it lasts — which is usually indicated as from three to four years of ever-increasing pressure, ending in some great exhibition of psychic power.

It is, one feels, a great responsibility to put forward views of a gloomy character at a time when the world has not yet recovered from its last shock, and when it is in great need of consolation. By nature I am an Optimist, and I remain so still, for I see clearly the glorious haven which lies at the other side of the storm. Some knowledge of the beneficial results of this storm, broadcasted before- hand, might make it easier to bear if and when it comes.

I say "if" because one always hopes that some other way may be found to effect those utter changes of the world’s methods and Outlook which are needed. Those spiritual forces which are nearest to us are clear that it can only be done in one way, but there are higher tribunals to which both they and we are subject, and the final word lies there. We have to remember that there have been false alarms before now in the history of the race, and that even the Christ circle was, if words have any meaning, deceived as to the immediate future. And yet upon this occasion the evidence is so strong, and the pointers all converge with such definite agreement upon the same spot, that if it should prove to be unfounded, it would still remain a most extraordinary and inexplicable psychic incident, far beyond deception or coincidence.

I am not permitted yet to go into detail, but I might repeat what I have already said with some amplification. These messages began to reach me more than three years ago through the writing, and later, the voice mediumship, of my wife. I have kept a careful record of them, which must now total at least 100,000 words, and they contain many prophecies already fulfilled. Later I went to Mrs. Leonard, had a long interview with my son (of which I took a verbatim report), and had from him, without any prompting, a confirmation point by point of all I had already been told. I had said nothing of the matter at the time to any outsider, so that this was a complete corroboration all the more effective in that it corrected and modified my views on some points, and so showed that it was no reflection of my own brain. I went afterwards to Mrs. Barkel at the Psychic College, and again, with no prompting at all, I had the same general message. These documents I of course retain, and if there was nothing else they would surely make a remarkable psychic record.

But there was much else. During my last tour of the United States I had the matter set forth by two independent mediums, one at Portland and one at Winnipeg. During the whole three years I have also received a steady flow of warning messages from people at a distance, each unaware of the views of the other but all saying the same thing, some in general terms, some with precise detail. The documents he before me as I write, and in their order of receipt they come from the City, Nice, South America, Australia, London, Northumberland, Melbourne, Harrow, Torquay, Iceland, New York, Stamford Hill, Rotherfield, New Zealand, Edinburgh, Belfast, Norwood, Paris, San Francisco, Barrow, Montreal, Melbourne, Weston, Cheltenham, Japan, Chicago, Sevenoaks, Glasgow, Chislehurst, Bolton, London, Godalming, Chelsea, Singapore, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Italy. These are nearly ah spiritualistic messages. I have no very definite views upon either Biblical time calculations, pyramidal occult meanings, or astrological prophecies, but all three schools of thought are teaching the same thing. Do I exaggerate, then, when I say that if some great event did not happen it would still remain one of the most remarkable psychic incidents of which we have record?

When is it due? Ah of the messages agree that it is very near to us. My impression is that our Informants see these events not in terms of time but as pictures, and have to judge the time by the clearness of the picture. This is a common method with human seers and I think it is so with the disembodied. I am of opinion also that where a huge Operation has to be engineered (for all is done by law and there is no miracle) the preparations may take an uncertain time and the final date be equally uncertain.

And the form? At this stage one can only say that these descriptions given in the Bible of the events which accompany not the end of the world but the end of an Era, are so like those which are now predicted, that the latter would indeed seem to have been vaguely seen by those old prophets. Further than that one may not go.

There remains the Cause. The spirit messages insist that this Cause lies in the complete divorcement of modern thought in every country from all that is truly spiritual. They teach that the race is immersed in trivialities, and that only a mighty shock can bring it back to the realities of existence and to the objects of human life. The simplification of religion, the abolition of theology and of forms, the return to the pure teaching of the Christ, and the absorption of the new revelation brought by Spirit Communion, are among the immediate objects to be attained.

Your contributor is guilty of one serious error. He speaks as if Spiritualism itself, by thinning the walls which divide us from the unseen, may admit a flood of evil. Such a supposition would presuppose that in the Borderland there was more evil than good, which cannot be said of God’s realm. On the contrary, such a thinning of the barrier would give wider entrance for all the angelic forces which may save and redeem the world. The fight now and always is between the spiritual and the material. It is the temporary predominance of the latter which is the cause of most of our troubles. The Spiritualist, as his very name implies, is the opposite pole to the Materialist, and as such is the foremost Champion of the new anti-material revelation. Theosophy made a fatal mistake by picking a senseless quarrel with Spiritualism in the beginning. Until Theosophists cast aside these theories, which we know by experience to be quite unfounded, we cannot close our ranks and combine against the common foe.

Yours faithfully,