In view of the numerous enquiries which reach the Kosmon Press regarding the origin of OAHSPE the following brief account of how the work came to be written and published is offered to the public.
The teachings contained in the volume were communicated from the interior planes through an American medium, J. B. Newbrough (1828-1891). From the testimony of those who knew him while on earth he appears to have been a man of exceptional moral character who possessed also the most remarkable powers in the direction of inspiration and clairvoyance.
The exercise of these faculties over many years culminated in 1881 in his becoming the instrument through which OAHSPE was communicated to the world. Fortunately enough in a letter addressed to The Banner of Light, Boston, in 1883 he himself has given a detailed account of the origin of the book so that it will be sufficient here to reproduce his original words :-
January 21st, 1883.
To the Editor of The Banner of Light, Boston, Mass.
In compliance with your request that I furnish for publication a brief article in regard to the writing of Oahspe, the new bible, I cheerfully proceed to do so.
You have observed, no doubt, that in Oahspe no mention is made of the manner in which the book was written, nor by whom. Well, was it not plain to anybody acquainted with such matters, that any statement on my part would not be believed by persons unacquainted with spiritual manifestations? And had I said that I myself wrote it, my own acquaintances would have known better. Had I said that the angels wrote it through my hands, then I would have been denounced as a pretender. Again, if a book have merit, what matters it as to who wrote it? And if it have no merit, then certainly it does not matter whence it came. The time has been when the name of an author clothed his product with some sort of authority. I rejoice that that day is past; that man-worship is at an end, and that all books, including Bibles, are perused not as authorities, but as pastimes, to lead us nearer and nearer to the Everlasting Light. And if a man turn out a good book, I accord him little more credit than I would a ripe apple for being on the sunny side of the tree. But I rejoice most of all because our Heavenly Father, through his angels co-operating with our forefathers, provided us a government that protects us in publishing our highest conceptions, regardless of creeds or dogmas. Why, to-day we have Protestant preachers in their pulpits denying the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, and only in the slightest possible degree less than Thomas Paine. They begin to judge so-called sacred books according to what they are, and not by a supposed authority. This is progress, undoubtedly.
On reflecting on these things, it was concluded to publish the first edition of Oahspe without any reference to its authorship. No attempt has been made to conceal the method in which, it was written, but most of the particulars have been told from time to time to inquiring friends.
Briefly, then, Oahspe was mechanically written through my hands by some other intelligence than my own. Many spiritualists are acquainted with this automatic movement of the hands, independent of one’s volition. There are thousands and thousands of persons who have this quality. It can also be educated, or rather, the susceptibility to external power can be increased. In my own case I discovered, many years ago, in sitting in circles to obtain spiritual manifestations, that my hands could not lie on the table without flying off into these “tantrums.” Often they would write messages, left or right, backward or forward, nor could I control them in any other way than by withdrawing from the table. Sometimes the power thus baffled would attack my tongue, or my eyes, or my ears, and I talked and saw and heard differently from my normal state. Then I went to work in earnest to investigate spiritualism, and I investigated over two hundred mediums, travelling hundreds and hundreds of miles for this purpose. Often I took them to my own house and experimented with them to my heart’s content. I found that nearly all of them were subject to this involuntary movement of the hands, or to entrancement. They told me it was angels controlling them. In course of time, about ten or fifteen years, I began to believe in spiritualism. But I was not satisfied with the communications; I was craving for the light of heaven. I did not desire communications from friends or relatives, or information about earthly things; I wished to learn something about the spirit-world; what the angels did, how they travelled, and the general plan of the universe. So, after awhile I took it into my head that wise and exalted angels would commune better with us if we purified ourselves physically and spiritually. Then I gave up eating flesh and fish, milk and butter, and took to rising before day, bathing twice a day, and occupying a small room alone, where I sat every morning half-an-hour before sunrise, recounting daily to my Creator my shortcomings in governing myself in thought and deed. In six years’ training I reduced myself from two hundred and fifty pounds down to one hundred and eighty; my rheumatism was all gone, and I had no more headaches. I became limber and sprightly. A new lease of life came to me.
Then a new condition of control came upon my hands; instead of the angels holding my hands as formerly, they held their hands over my head (and they were clothed with sufficient materiality for me to see them) and a light fell upon my hands as they lay on the table. In the meantime I had attained to hear audible angel voices near me. I was directed to get a typewriter, which writes by keys, like a piano. This I did, and I applied myself industriously to learn ‘it, but with only indifferent success. For two years more the angels propounded to me questions relative to heaven and earth, which no mortal could answer very intelligently. I always look back on those two years as an enigma. Perhaps it was to show me that man is but an ignoramus at best; perhaps I was waiting for constitutional growth to be good. Well, one morning the light struck both my hands on the back, and they went for the typewriter, for some fifteen minutes, very vigorously. I was told not to read what was printed, and I had worked myself into such a religious fear of losing this new power that I obeyed reverently. The next morning, also before sunrise, the same power came and wrote (or printed rather) again. Again I laid the matter away very religiously, saying little about it to anybody. One morning I accidentally (seemed accidental to me) looked out of the window and beheld the line of light that rested on my hands extending heavenward like a. telegraph wire towards the sky. Over my head were three pairs of hands, fully materialised; behind me stood another angel, with her hands on my shoulders. My looking did not disturb the scene; my hands kept right on, printing . . . printing.
For fifty weeks this continued, every morning half-an-hour or so before sunrise, and then it ceased, and I was told to read and publish the book Oahspe. The peculiar drawings in Oahspe were made with pencil in the same way. A few of the drawings I was told to copy from other books, such as Saturn, the Egyptian ceremonies, etc.
Now during all the while I have pursued my vocation (dentistry) nor has this matter nor my diet (vegetables, fruit and farinaceous food) detracted any from my health or strength, although I have continued this discipline for upwards of ten or more years. I am firmly convinced that there are numberless persons who might attain to marvellous development if they would thus train themselves. A strict integrity to one’s highest light is essential to development. Self-abnegation and purity should be the motto and discipline of every one capable of angel communion.
J. B. NEWBROUGH.