An Evening With the Spirits

I felt my hair blown and lifted by currents of air, and cool breezes played about my face and hands. Then began a strange sensation, which I had sometimes felt at seances. Frequently I have heard it described by others as of cobwebs being passed over the face, but to me, who watched it curiously, it seemed that I could feel fine threads being drawn out of the pores of my skin.

I experienced none of the fear of the previous evening. At first I had a strange eerie feeling somewhat akin to it, but that passed off, and I became perfectly calm and indisposed to move, or to answer any of the many questions addressed to me by my friends outside. At the same time I took a great interest in analysing my own sensations and wondered as to what would come of the experiment, for that something was about to happen I was certain.

  • A Measurement of the Soul

    If then, man, in every act, leaves the impression, or daguerreotype of his mental being upon the scenes of his life and the subjects of his action, we are by this law furnished with a new clue to the history of our race; and I think it highly probable, that, by the application of this principle, the chasms of history may be supplied, and a glimpse may be obtained of unrecorded ages and nations, whose early history is lost in darkness. The ancient manuscripts, paintings, and other works of art, which still exist – the crucifixes, garments, armor, and other ancient relics, still preserved – are doubtless still instinct with the spirit that produced them, and capable of revealing to psychometric exploration, the living realities with which they were once connected. At present, these relics are barren of significance. Their hidden meaning lies waiting the future explorer, as the hieroglyphics of Egypt awaited the arrival of Champillion to interpret their significance. And why should not the world be filled with the monuments and unwritten records of its past history? It would seem, to the superficial thinker, that man was entirely limited to tradition and written records for his knowledge of the past; but physical science proves, that the world possesses, embodied in enduring monuments, the story of its progressive existence. The geologist finds, in the different strata of the earth, in its curiously mingled and irregular structure, and in the fossil remains which it conceals in its bosom, the history of its various changes of surface, and of the antediluvian races of animals which have long been extinct. The huge Saurian monsters, which he portrays from their fossil relics, rise before the eye as incredible chimeras. And over this fertile region, now occupied by prosperous States, he revives, by the magic power of science, the antediluvian seas and their strange inhabitants, unknown to man.

    The Past is entombed in the Present! The world is its own enduring monument; and that which is true of its physical, is likewise true of its mental career. The discoveries of Psychometry will enable us to explore the history of man, as those of geology enable us to explore the history of the earth. There are mental fossils for psychologists as well as mineral fossils for the geologists; and I believe that hereafter the psychologist and the geologist will go hand in hand — the one portraying the earth, its animals and its vegetation, while the other portrays the human beings who have roamed over its surface in the shadows, and the darkness of primeval barbarism! Aye, the mental telescope is now discovered which may pierce the depths of the past and bring us in full view of the grand and tragic passages of ancient history! I know that, to many of my readers, unaccustomed to these investigations, and unacquainted with the first experimental facts of this great science, these anticipations must seem a visionary hope – too grand, too romantic, too transcendently beautiful to be true. But observe, that all is based upon familiar experiments, and these results are but legitimate deductions from familiar facts. As surely as the expansive power of steam gives premonition of the ocean steamship, does the power of Psychometry give promise of all the glorious performance to which I have alluded.

    —Buchanan, 1842

    A tactile scent, groaning under the weight of aeons: wild fig, cedarwood, venerable ti leaf, and white sage.

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  • A Spirit, Katie

    On my arrival (June 5) all appeared fair enough. I found the mediums established on the second floor of a small house in Ninth Street near Arch. There were but two rooms on the floor, a front parlor and a bedroom; the lower floor under both rooms being occupied as a shop for the sale of musical instruments. In a back corner of the parlor was a walnut cabinet, seven feet wide and eight feet high, with a door that opened into the parlor, and two apertures, five and six feet high respectively, both curtained with black cloth. We had lamp-light, shaded but sufficient to enable us to recognize faces and to see everything that passed in the room. After we had examined the cabinet, the medium entered it, closing the door.

    Soon at one of the apertures appeared a fair, thoughtful young face, a girl of eighteen apparently, by whom I was cordially welcomed in a low, pleasant voice. She returned and spoke to us several times. At the close of the sitting she twice appeared, robed in white, just within the cabinet door; not coming out, however, into the room: the first time (so I was told) that she had ever shown herself in full form.

    It was evidently a living, moving, thinking being. Yet I suspended judgment. One of the mediums was out of our sight. Then there was a door — locked, padlocked, and otherwise effectually secured, it seemed, but yet a door — from the cabinet into the bedroom adjoining. The possibility of a confederate suggested itself.

    Forty memorable sittings followed. Gradually test conditions were perfected, and every imaginable ground for suspecting deception was removed; and then, instead of failure, all the phenomena came out in greater perfection than before. I select the more remarkable; to copy my notes in full would involve tedious repetition.

    June 7. Katie allowed Dr. Child to feel her pulse; its beats were distinct, about seventy-two a minute. A lady offered her a gold ring, and asked me to put it on her finger. I did so. The hand, beautifully formed, was like that of a mortal woman, nearly of the same temperature as my own, and slightly moist. At the close of the sitting she advanced into the room, dropped a finger on my head, and touched several other persons.

    June 9. I gave her a long chain, composed of Violet’s hair, a present to myself more than forty-five years ago: hoping, as I told Katie, thereby to attract Violet herself in accordance with her promise. I observed that Katie wore the gold ring. But when, at the close of the sitting, examined with a light every nook and corner in the cabinet, neither ring nor chain was to be found.

    June 10. Katie called me up to the aperture, handed me back the hair chain, and said: “Violet wishes you to keep this, in memory of her, until you are called to meet her in her spirit-home.”

    – Touching Visitants From a Higher Life, Robert Dale Owen

    In memory of her: green cognac, rose water, and Italian bergamot.

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  • Cadences and Shakes

    Sir, — After sitting for a short time in darkness, we heard raps on the table and on our chairs, after which the whole room vibrated powerfully. The medium, Mr. Herne, was entranced, but was unable to speak. Mr. Kent then described a female spirit as standing behind Mrs. Berry, with arms extended over her head. Mr. Kent took a concertina from the table, and after playing a few airs, Mrs. Berry requested our invisible friends to whistle an accompaniment, which they immediately did through Mr. Kent I the most magnificent manner I ever heard. Every air which was asked for was at once played, and cadences and shakes were whistled in the most finished style. “Home, sweet home!” was the last air played, and a lovely accompaniment like the singing of birds was given by the invisibles. This terminated a most interesting séance.
    – M. Pearson, 5 July 1870

    The tittering whistles of phantasms: rosewood and rose geranium prickled with pink peppercorn, cardamom, white sandalwood, and frankincense.

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  • Claircognizance

    Dr. E. S. Packard, of Corunna, Me., in the Eastern Star, states that Mr. David Prescott, of South Sangerville, over ninety years of age, “wandered away into the woods, and not returning, a crowd of over a hundred men hunted for him nearly two days; the mill pond near his house was drained. Search was made in every direction but to no success.

     “A gentleman of that place decided to call in the aid of Mrs. Stevens; she told him somebody was lost, and not being able to visit the place she drew a map or chart of the locality, giving directions, by which, on his return he was immediately found alive, but died the next day. The day following I was at South Sangerville, and stopping at this gentleman’s house, examined the map, which was perfect in every respect. The house and shed were correctly drawn, the mill and pond near the house were marked, the field and woods, two fences over which Mr. Prescott must climb, even to the swinging of the road by the house was definitely given.

    “The spot where she said he was, was shown by a large black mark, and he was found exactly in that place. When we consider that Mrs. Stevens never saw this place in her normal condition, it is to me a wonderful test of spirit power.”

    Absolute and perfect clarity: rockrose, white amber, Corsican immortelle, Siamese benzoin, white sandalwood, and life everlasting.

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  • Ectoplasm

    In examining and reporting these cases the witnesses averred that certain people, whom they called “materializing mediums,” had the strange physical gift that they could put forth from their bodies a viscous, gelatinous substance which appeared to differ from every known form of matter in that it could solidify and be used for material purposes, and yet could be reabsorbed, leaving absolutely no trace even upon the clothes which it had traversed in leaving the body.

    This substance was actually touched by some enterprising investigators, who reported that it was elastic and appeared to be sensitive, as though it was really an organic extrusion from the medium's body.

    —Arthur Conan Doyle, 1930

    A luminous, viscid blend of white amber, lemongrass, white oakmoss, and davana.

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  • Eusapia

    “The case I allude to is that of an invalid woman who belongs to the humblest class of society. She is nearly thirty years old and very ignorant; her look is neither fascinating nor endowed with the power which modern criminologists call irresistible; but when she wishes, be it by day or by night, she can divert a curious group for an hour or so with the most surprising phenomena. Either bound to a seat or firmly held by the hands of the curious, she attracts to her the articles of furniture which surround her, lifts them up, holds them suspended in the air like Mahomet’s coffin, and makes them come down again with undulatory movements, as if they were obeying her will. She increases their weight or lessens it according to her pleasure. She raps or taps upon the walls, the ceiling, the floor, with fine rhythm and cadence. In response to the requests of the spectators, something like flashes of electricity shoot forth from her body, and envelop her or enwrap the spectators of these marvellous scenes. She draws upon cards that you hold out, everything that you want – figures, signatures, numbers, sentences – by just stretching out her hand toward the indicated place.

    “If you place in the corner of the room a vessel containing a layer of soft clay, you find after some moments the imprint in it of a small or a large hand, the image of a face (front view or profile) from which a plaster cast can be taken. In this way portraits of a face taken at different angles have been preserved, and those who desire so to do can thus make serious and important studies.

    “This woman rises in the air, no matter what bands tie her down. She seems to lie upon the empty air, as on a couch, contrary to all the laws of gravity; she plays on musical instruments – organs, bells, tambourines – as if they had been touched by her hands or moved by the breath of invisible gnomes… This woman at times can increase her stature by more than four inches.

    —Chiaia, in a letter to Lombroso

    Pale lilacs, white tea, and candle wax.

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  • Lajos

    A tribute to Lajos Pap, a spiritualist medium whose specialty was apporting snakes, lizards, rats, and frogs – live and dead – during séance.

    A pattering of night-creatures: indigo musk and patchouli croaking with oakmoss and a skittering of gleaming black olibanum.

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  • Materialisation

    Undoubtedly the greatest marvel of Spiritualism is the materialisation of the spirit form. It is highly interesting to study the gradual development of this phenomenon. It was not till some years after the advent of modern Spiritualism that materialisation was heard of. At first the spirits had power only to materialise a hand or foot, and that very imperfectly; then they were able to produce faces, several sometimes showing at one séance; but even at that time the spirits prophesied that the time would shortly come when they should be able to materialise a complete human form, and walk about in our midst. That time has now come. On two occasions I have witnessed the phenomenon of a spirit reincarnating itself — putting on a material body and dress — the body to all intents a human body, and the dress fabric of earthly produce. The spirit has not suddenly burst on my view in a perfected form, but slowly evolved out of nothingness before my eyes, and again melted away, repeating the process again and again!
    – Experiences in Spiritualism: A Record of Extraordinary Phenomena Witnessed Through the Most Powerful Mediums, With Some Historical Fragments Relating to Semiramide, Given by the Spirit of and Egyptian Who Lived Contemporary With Her by Catherine Berry

    A quiet perfume that emerges slowly out of nonbeing: white musk, ambergris accord, coconut, almond milk, and honeysuckle.

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  • Mr. Morse’s Seances

    Inquiries into the Philosophy and Phenomena of Spiritualism should procure admission to Mr. Morse’s Seances at 15, Southampton Road Holborn, London on Friday Evenings at Eight O’Clock.

    Don’t be late: polished teakwood, pipe smoke, sugar-clouded absinthe, vetiver, and rum musk.

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  • Odic Force

    The desire to inflict a mortal wound on the monster, Superstition, which, from a similar origin, a few centuries ago, inflicted on European society so vast an amount of misery, and by whose influence not hundreds, but thousands, of innocent persons died in tortures, on the rack and at the stake; — the desire made me wish to make the experiment, if possible, of bringing a highly sensitive person, by night, to a churchyard. I thought it possible that they might see, over graves where mouldering bodies lay, something like that which Billing had seen.
    Eucalyptus blossom, lime rind, and white mint coalescing into a green-tinged amber glow.

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  • Practical Occultism

    Practical Occultism consists, first, of a perfect mastery of the individual’s own spirit. No advance whatever can be made in acquiring power over other spirits, such as controlling the lower or  supplicating the higher, until the spirit within has acquired such perfect mastery of itself, that it can never be moved to anger or emotion—realizes no pleasure, cares for no pain; experiences no mortification at insult, loss, or disappointment—in a word, subdues every emotion that stirs common men’s minds.

    To arrive at this state, severe and painful as well as long continued discipline is necessary. Having acquired this perfect equilibrium, the next step is power. The individual must be able to wake when he pleases and sleep when he pleases; go in spirit during bodily sleep where he will, and visit—as well as remember when awake—distant scenes.

    He must be enabled by practice, to telegraph, mentally, with his fellow associates, and present himself, spiritually, in their midst.

    He must, by practice, acquire psychological control over the minds of any persons—not his associates—beneath his own calibre of mind. He must be able to still a crying infant, subdue fierce animals or angry men, and by will, transfer his thought without speech or outward sign to any person of a mental calibre below himself; he must be enabled to summon to his presence elementary spirits, and if he desires to do so (knowing the penalties attached), to make them serve him in the special departments of Nature to which they belong.

    He must, by virtue of complete subjugation of his earthly nature, be able to invoke Planetary and even Solar Spirits, and commune with them to a certain degree.

    To attain these degrees of power the processes are so difficult that a thorough practical occultist can scarcely become one and yet continue his relations with his fellow-men.

    He must continue, from the first to the last degree, a long series of exercises, each one of which must be perfected before another is undertaken.

    A practical occultist may be of either sex, but must observe as the first law inviolable chastity—and that with a view of conserving all the virile powers of the organism. No aged person, especially one who has not lived the life of strict chastity, can acquire the full sum of the powers above named. It is better to commence practice in early youth, for after the meridian of life, when the processes of waste prevail over repair, few of the powers above described can be attained; the full sum never.

    Strict abstinence from animal food and all stimulants is necessary. Frequent ablutions and long periods of silent contemplation are essential. Codes of exercises for the attainment of these powers can be prescribed, but few, if any, of the self-indulgent livers of modern times can perform their routine.

    The arts necessary for study to the practical occultist are, in addition to those prescribed in speculative occultism, a knowledge of the qualities of drugs, vapors, minerals, electricity, perfumes, fumigations, and all kinds of anæsthetics.

    And now, having given in brief as much as is consistent with my position—as the former associate of a secret society—I have simply  to add, that, whilst there are, as in Masonry, certain preliminary degrees to pass through, there are numerous others to which a thoroughly well organized and faithful association might advance. In each degree there are some valuable elements of practical occultism demanded, whilst the teachings conveyed are essential preliminaries. In a word, speculative occultism must precede practical occultism; the former is love and wisdom, the latter, simply power.

    A Victorian occultist’s incense, invoking the Four Archangels: precious wildcrafted Indian frankincense with myrrh, cassia, sandarac, palmarosa, white sage, red sandalwood, elemi, and drops of star anise bound with grains of kyphi.

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  • Protoplasmic Ooze

    The protoplasmic ooze results in man. It arrives at thoughts and emotions, it builds lofty ideals and great civilisations. The objector urges that this proof of progress is no proof of the permanence of any personality. No proof, but certainly no suggestion of disproof. Again, we find no trace of waste. Change and the revolution of one form of matter into another are evident to us, but no waste, no loss, is anywhere discoverable. The noblest product of the universe so far as we are certain of it is the rounded and accomplished personality of man. Why should nature everywhere display her absolute incapacity to cast away an atom of her lowest product, and yet be able to plunge into nothingness her very greatest?
    – the Occult Review, January 1905

    A pretense of civility, the height of anthropocentric arrogance: a lime-washed gentleman’s fougere with a pinch of snuff, an insouciant whiff of gin, and the memory of an amorphous, sluggish, protoplasmic greenness.

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  • Reflections Under Bereavement

    I can only consider departed spirits and ministering angels, as one innumerable company continually surrounding us. And are they not as nearly united to their fellow soldiers now, as when in the body ! What should hinder ? Gratitude and affection are natives of heaven, and live for ever. Forgetfulness is a property of mortality, and drops off with the body. Therefore, they that loved us in the Lord, will surely love us for ever. Can anything material interrupt the sight or presence of a spirit ? Nay,—

    ‘Walk within walls no more the passage bar,
    Than unopposing space of liquid air.’

    – the British Spiritual Telegraph, Vol. 3 No. 6, April 1859

    Blackened opoponax and frankincense smoke shrouded in wilted roses, black taffeta, and tear-stained lace.

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  • Table-Turning

    In the month of December, another fair American medium arrived in England. This lady and her husband, Dr. Roberts, attended a course of lectures I was then delivering in Providence Chapel, upon Mesmerism and Animal Magnetism. They introduced themselves to me, and invited me to visit them. I did so, many times; and to them do I owe much; for, through the information I received from them, I have been enabled to inquire more fully into this soul-stirring, and very important subject, after several Seances at Mrs. Roberts's in Dyer's Buildings, Holborn [MD: original], where I witnessed the moving of the table in various directions. This is what is called “Table-turning,” and which has been attributed to Electricity or Animal Magnetism, by many intelligent and scientific persons… I have seen a loo-table suspended in the air, at least six inches from the ground, without anyone in the body touching it.

    —Hardinge, 1854

    A heavy, tactile scent that thrums with voices from beyond: black polished teakwood, gullies of ectoplasm, and ghostly white musk.

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  • The Air and the Ether

    But on what could an impression be left? An impression of such a nature becomes a material thing and implies a material nexus, however subtle. So far as we know there are only two things there, the air and the ether. The air is a mobile thing and could not carry a permanent impression. But is the ether a mobile thing? It is pictured as a most delicate medium with vibrating currents flowing in it, but it seems to me that a most tenuous jelly with quivers and thrills would be a closer analogy. We could conceive the whole material universe embedded in and interpenetrated by this subtle material, which would not necessarily change its position since it is too fine for wind or any coarser material to influence it. I feel that I am rushing in where even Lodges fear to tread, but if it should prove to be as I suggest then we should have that permanent screen on which shadows are thrown. The block of ether upon the stairs is the same that it always was, and so conveys the impression from the past.

    the Edge of the Unknown, Arthur Conan Doyle

    Gentle, almost imperceptible, permeating all things: pale amber vibrating with ambergris and a thread of lavender.

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  • The Fox Sisters

    For the sake of continuity the subsequent history of the Fox sisters will now be given after the events at Hydesville. It is a remarkable, and to Spiritualists a painful, story, but it bears its own lesson and should be faithfully recorded. When men have an honest and whole-hearted aspiration for truth there is no development which can ever leave them abashed or find no place in their scheme.

    For some years the two younger sisters, Kate and Margaret, gave séances at New York and other places, successfully meeting every test which was applied to them. Horace Greeley, afterwards a candidate for the United States presidency, was, as already shown, deeply interested in them and convinced of their entire honesty. He is said to have furnished the funds by which the younger girl completed her very imperfect education.

    During these years of public mediumship, when the girls were all the rage among those who had no conception of the religious significance of this new revelation, and who concerned themselves with it purely in the hope of worldly advantage, the sisters exposed themselves to the enervating influences of promiscuous séances in a way which no earnest Spiritualist could justify. The dangers of such practices were not then so clearly realized as now, nor had it occurred to people that it is unlikely that high spirits would descend to earth in order to advise as to the state of railway stocks or the issue of love affairs. The ignorance was universal, and there was no wise mentor at the elbow of these poor pioneers to point the higher and the safer path. Worst of all, their jaded energies were renewed by the offer of wine at a time when one at least of them was hardly more than a child. It is said that there was some family predisposition towards alcoholism, but even without such a taint their whole procedure and mode of life were rash to the last degree. Against their moral character there has never been a breath of suspicion, but they had taken a road which leads to degeneration of mind and character, though it was many years before the more serious effects were manifest.

    Some idea of the pressure upon the Fox girls at this time may be gathered from Mrs. Hardinge Britten's* description from her own observation. She talks of “pausing on the first floor to hear poor patient Kate Fox, in the midst of a captious, grumbling crowd of investigators, repeating hour after hour the letters of the alphabet, while the no less poor, patient spirits rapped out names, ages and dates to suit all comers.” Can one wonder that the girls, with vitality sapped, the beautiful, watchful influence of the mother removed, and harassed by enemies, succumbed to a gradually increasing temptation in the direction of stimulants?

    —Arthur Conan Doyle

    Deception and despair: rose geranium and tea roses with mahogany wood, bourbon vanilla, and apple peel.

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  • The Ghost of a Ghost’s Ghost

    Now, suppose this is to be accepted as the rational and scientific explanation of all the phenomena of this order which have been observed since the human race began to conserve records of its own experience. To what conclusion should we be logically forced? The believe in the objective reality of apparitions under such conditions would have to make way for a new conception, but the point which is really at issue between the materialist and the spiritualist would remain untouched. That issue relates to the permanence of the human personality after death. The spiritualist will point you to his own experiences as affording evidence of the permanence of personality. The materialist is certain that all the experiences of which the spiritualist is conscious result from the operation of natural law. But the eternal question of the soul – “Am I an immortal thing?” – is not to be decided either by the proof of the existence of whole armies of ghosts, or by the rational explanation of all apparitional phenomena whatsoever. The spiritualist falls into an easy error in the supposition that a continuance of personality on a new plane implies a permanence of continuity. What guarantee has a ghost of being immortal? Me not he also perish out of his appointed sphere? And why might we not fancy a whole procession of lives in phantom state – each more ghostly, more attenuated than its forerunner – the ghost of a man, the ghost of a man’s ghost, the ghost of a “ghost’s” ghost, until the thin thing fades into nonentity and slips back into the universal element? The materialist falls into an error parallel with that of the spiritualist when he conceives that a rational explanation of all ghostly phenomena has disposed of a belief in immortality. The concept is as independent of evidence, and as unsupportable by evidence as it is indestructible by evidence. We can neither prove nor disprove, but the balance of reason is still upon the side of the believer and it favours strongly the hope of a continued existence and a continued growth. We can but argue from things known. In all nature we find the clearest evidence of law of progress.
    – the Occult Review, January 1905

    Falling into nonentity and slipping back into the universal element: pallid oakmoss and earthy patchouli tumbling into a void of misty lavender, cistus, and white agarwood.

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  • The Musical Seances

    The second series commenced at 15, Southhampton Row, on Wednesday evening. Into the present course, the medium, Mr. Shepherd will introduce some of the more marked peculiarities of his singular performance. He sings at each concert in the soprano voice.

    A marked peculiarity: tonka bean and red sandalwood with orris, lemon peel, and leather.

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  • The Mysterious Rappings Polka

    As performed by Griffiths Quadrille Band in a Mysteriously Effective Manner and Dedicated to all Lovers of “the Mysterious”.

    It really was a thing. Rose musk with pink and black pepper, a splash of bay rum, tobacco absolute, and toffee.

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  • The Naturally Possible and Impossible

    This has occurred in my presence on four occasions in darkness. The test conditions under which they took place were quite satisfactory, so far as the judgment was concerned; but ocular demonstration of such a fact is so necessary to disturb our pre-formed opinions as to “the naturally possible and impossible,” that I will here only mention cases in which the deductions of reason were confirmed by the sense of sight.

    On one occasion I witnessed a chair, with a lady sitting on it, rise several inches from the ground. On another occasion, to avoid the suspicion of this being in some way performed by herself, the lady knelt on the chair in such a manner that its four feet were visible to us. It then rose about three inches, remained suspended for about ten seconds, and then slowly descended. At another time two children, on separate occasions, rose from the floor with their chairs, in full daylight, under (to me) most satisfactory conditions; for I was kneeling and keeping close watch upon the feet of the chair, and observing that no one might touch them.

    The most striking cases of levitation which I have witnessed have been with Mr. Home, on three separate occasions have I seen him raised completely from the floor of the room. Once sitting in an easy chair, once kneeling on his chair, and once standing up. On each occasion I had full opportunity of watching the occurrence as it was taking place.

    There are at least a hundred recorded instances of Mr. Home’s rising from the ground, in the presence of as many separate persons, and I have heard from the lips of the three witnesses to the most striking occurrence of this kind – the Earl of Dunraven, Lord Lindsay, and Captain C. Wynne – their own most minute accounts of what took place. To reject the recorded evidence on this subject is to reject all human testimony whatever; for no fact in sacred or profane history is supported by a stronger array of proofs

    The accumulated testimony establishing Mr. Homes levitations is overwhelming. It is greatly to be desired that some person, whose evidence would be accepted as conclusive by the scientific world – if indeed there lives a person whose testimony in favour of such phenomena would be taken – would seriously and patiently examine the alleged facts. Most of the eyewitnesses to these levitations are now living, and would, doubtless, be willing to give their evidence. But, in a few years, such direct evidence will be difficult, if not impossible, to be obtained.

    – Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual during the years 1870-1873, William Crookes

    Well-worn leather, bay rum, vetiver, cigar smoke, and amber oudh.

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  • The Spirit Bridegroom

    UNCANNY STORY FROM THE ONSET SPIRITUALISTS
    Wealthy Widow Becomes a Ghost’s Bride

    The Bangs Sisters, May and Lizzie, Continue to Startle the Peaceful Residents of a Massachusetts Town – the Spirit Bridegroom

    Charming May Bands and her sister, the great spiritualists, who, when at home, reside in Chicago, have lately startled the natives of Onset, Mass. This statement means more than might appear on the surface when it is added that that little town is almost wholly made up of spiritualists. Thither the Bangs sisters hied themselves some weeks ago to take part in the summer assembly of the eastern societies. They made their headquarters at Happy Home cottage, where they were daily visited by pilgrims in search of friends and relatives long since in the “other world.” Among those visitors was a rich widow from the far west, who wanted to see her lover, who had been a captain in the United States army. The captain, who came from Maryland, died on the eve of his marriage to the rich widow. For a year she has worn widows’ weeds and longed for even a visit from the spirit of her departed lover. Miss Bangs informed her that she could not only produce the captain’s spirit, but that the marriage ceremony that had been cut off by death would be performed in Happy Home cottage. A few days ago an item was given out for publication to the effect that the ceremony had been effectually performed some days before. In speaking of it May Bangs said:

    “I materialized the form and the lover came out of the cabinet attired in the uniform of an army officer. The premises had been previously examined to prove that there was no mortal about. The materialized spirit asked that the curtains be drawn for a while to shut off the front parlor. The bride wanted him to put on her slipper, and he did.

    “Only a faint light shone through the room where the minister and others were waiting. He kissed her numerous times. The bride was in a new wedding dress. Then the materialized spirit lover requested that the marriage ceremony be performed, and the request was granted. He placed a ring on her finger. They were together a long time that evening.”

    – Fort Wayne Sentinel, September 10, 1894
    Misted roses and the memory of cologne, salt-wet and bittersweet.

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  • The Writing on the Slate

    My most remarkable experience has been with Dr. H. Slade of New York, for whom I have formed a high regard. I first met him at his residence last November, when, without announcing my name, in three consecutive sittings, at eleven o’clock in the morning, seated at a small, bare table in the centre of a light room, there written on the under side of a slate placed on the table, several communications addressed to me, purporting to come from my deceased friends. I pass over the other manifestations – such as the movement of heavy articles of furniture in plain view, without visible contact – and confine myself to the writing on the slate, which I regarded with most interest…

    – Thos. W. Waterman, Binghamton, NY, July 14, 1873

    The result of a physical law which is not yet understood, and the existence of which has hitherto scarcely been suspected: beeswax candles, chalk, and dust.

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  • Thought Photography

    During the year 1896 considerable stir was created by the investigation of Dr. Hippolyte Baraduc, of Paris, in the line of “Thought Photography,” which is of interest to psychic investigators generally. Dr. Baraduc claimed to have gotten photographic impressions of his thoughts, “made without sunlight or electricity or contact of any material kind.” These impressions he declared to be subjective, being his own personal vibrations, the result of a force emanating from the human personality, supra-mechanical, or spiritual. The experiments were carried on in a dark room, and according to his statement were highly successful. In a communication to an American correspondent, printed in the New York Herald, January 3, 1897, he writes: “I have discovered a human, invisible light, differing altogether from the cathode rays discovered by Prof. Roentgen.” Dr. Baraduc advanced the theory that our souls must be considered as centers of luminous forces, owing their existence partly to the attraction and partly to the repulsion of special and potent forces bred of the invisible cosmos.

    A number of French scientific journals took up the matter, and discussed “Thought Photography” at length, publishing numerous reproductions of the physician’s photographs; but the more conservative journals of England, Germany and America remained silent on the subject, as it seemed to be on the borderland [Pg 199]between science and charlatanry. On January 11, 1897, the American newspapers contained an item to the effect that Drs. S. Millington Miller and Carleton Simon, of New York City, the former a specialist in brain physiology, and the latter an expert hypnotist, had succeeded in obtaining successful thought photographs on dry plates from two hypnotized subjects. When the subjects were not hypnotized, the physicians reported no results.

    As “Thought Photography” is without the pale of known physical laws, stronger evidence is needed to support the claims made for it than that which has been adduced by the French and American investigators. “Thought Photography” once established as a scientific fact, we shall have, perhaps, an explanation of genuine spirit photographs, if such there be.
    – Hours With the Ghosts; Or XIX Century Witchcraft by Henry R. Evans

    Mercury-limned lavender, palo santo, and ambrette seed.

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  • Vital Fluid

    Modern philosophy has admitted a plenum or universal principle of fluid matter, which occupies all space; and that as all bodies moving in the world, abound with pores, this fluid matter introduces itself through the interstices and returns backwards and forwards, flowing through one body by the currents which issue therefrom to another, as in a magnet, which produces that phenomenon which we call Animal Magnetism. This fluid consists of fire, air and spirit, and like all other fluids tends to an equilibrium, therefore it is easy to conceive how the efforts which the bodies make towards each other produce animal electricity, which in fact is no more than the effect produced between two bodies, one of which has more motion than the other; a phenomenon serving to prove that the body which has most motion communicates it to the other, until the medium of motion becomes an equilibrium between the two bodies, and then this equality of motion produces animal electricity.

    —Wonders and mysteries of animal magnetism displayed; or the history, art, practice, and progress of that useful science, from its first rise in the city of Paris, to the present time. With several Curious Cases and new Anecdotes of the Principal Professors, 1791.

    The breath and tears and pulse of all life; the fluid that flows through all creation, permeating space and time and spirit: olibanum, red benzoin absolute, labdanum, betel leaf, galbanum, mastic, and angelica.

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  • Who Would Not Tremble Too?

    The new discovery of “Table Moving,” by means of an unseen power from the human hand, has only been introduced into England within the last few weeks; but it would be difficult to dingle out any scientific subject which has with such rapidity, taken so extensive a hold of the popular mind. If we travel by railway carriage, steamboat, or omnibus, this is the universal topic of conversation. From the aristocratic saloons of Belgravia to the “Parlours” of Whitechapel – the Green Park to the Cat and Mutton Fields, “table moving” is all the rage. From the Royal Institution, where the secretary pokes his head through a forest of electrical apparatus, to inform the audience that the facts are established, down to the humblest Mechanics’ Institute, all are full of it, and the tables, to quote the words of the old song – “are all a moving, move, move, moving,” – Every evening party must of course have its experiments; accordingly, gentlemen come provided with very elegant chapeaux for the occasion, and many an innocent flirtation occurs consequent on the proper arrangement of the little fingers of some of the fair operators. As “sweet eighteen,” with her blue eyes and golden locks, gracefully links her little finger with Charles’s, in a retired corner, what wonder if the hat should tremble? And Charles, being of course fond of poetry (his very name is a guarantee for that), cannot resist softly breathing into Lucy’s ear, that exquisite line from Waller, on his fair one’s harp –

    “Touched by that hand – who would not tremble too?”

    And after a little more conversation of a strictly scientific character, they feel quite satisfied with the success of the experiment. Mamma, who has been watching the progress of the magnetic influence at a distance, “has no patience with such nonsense, and wonders young men and young women cannot find something better to do.” She forgets that there was a magnetic influence at work about twenty years since, and what little trifles served as conductors then.

    – Table Moving, its causes and phenomena: with directions how to experiment

    A spirit-touched courtship: sweet orange blossom, white honey, jasmine tea, white sandalwood, green apple, and lily of the valley.

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