The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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312         THE LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.
examined. If it showed no signs of decomposition, the fact was held to be indubitable evidence of guilt. The punishment was summary, and fully as effective as a modern autopsy; it consisted in driving a stake through the heart. This simple process effectually laid the "vampire ghost," and it no longer possessed the power to " suck the blood of the living," and thus " continue to live on in the grave," to use the language of an ancient official document defining the characteristics of a vampire.
Revolting and gross as was the superstition relating to vampirism, is it not possible that, like most legendary tales, it had a basis of truth, and that an essential part of that truth consisted, as before remarked, of the fact that the cases referred to were cases of suspended animation? Many cases are reported which appear to be well authenticated, and they all seem to sustain this theory. One case (which was officially attested) is related, where the body of a man suspected of vampirism was exhumed after it had lain in the grave three weeks. No signs of decomposition being visible, a stake was driven through the heart, "upon which," says the report, " fresh blood gushed from the mouth and ears."
Another case is mentioned of one Arnold Paul, a Hungarian, whose body was exhumed after it had been buried forty days. " His body," says the narrator, " was red ; his hair, nails, and beard had grown again, and his veins were replete with fluid blood." The stake was brought into requisition, and as it pierced his heart, he " uttered a frightful shriek, as if he had been alive."
Two erroneous impressions very generally prevail regarding catalepsy, or suspended animation. One is that depriving the subject of air will cause death in a few hours. Another is that catalepsy is a disease, or is always the result of disease. Both of these hypotheses are clearly disproved by the well-known experiments of the East Indian fakirs.
One of the most clearly attested instances of the kind alluded to is the experiment of the Fakir of Lahore, who, at