Medium Francesco Carancini Italy
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Francesco Crancini Medium
Italian Physical Medium. He was widely tested by Baron L. von Erhardt and the
Society for Psychical Research of Rome, further studied at Paris by Cesar Baudi
De Vesme, Lemerle, and M. Mangin, and also investigated at Geneva by Professors
Clarapede, Theodore Flournoy, and Batelli. He sat in darkness, tightly bound,
and produced strong telekinetic phenomena, such as making objects float and
levitation, and occasional materializations, of which infra red flashlight photographs
Several times he was accused of cheating, but Baron von Erhardt remarked that the hypothesis of fraud in this case implied that the experimenters were absolute imbeciles. Nevertheless, such charges were made by W. W. Baggally (1910) and by others (see Annales des Sciences Psychiques, 1913, pp. 243-47).
Baggally, W. W. "Some Sittings with Carancini." Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 14 (June 1910). Reprinted in Everard Feilding, Sittings with Eusapio Palladino and Other Studies. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1963.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Physical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.
NOTE BY E. J. DINGWALL: The record of these
sittings of which Everard Feilding attended twelve out of the thirteen is of
great interest since it provides good grounds for believing that the experiences
in Naples with Eusapia Palladino had not in any way weakened the critical
appraisal of the physical phenomena so characteristic of these two distinguished
and capable investigators. Moreover, the series is of some importance since it
exemplifies a situation where one of the sitters becomes the medium's
accomplice, a state of things which was soon suspected, tested and proved by Mr.
The early history of Carancini will be found in, among other places, the Annales des Sciences Psychiques during the years 1908-14 and an account of some of his fraudulent methods was printed in the same journal for 1913, pp. 243-247.
A SERIES of articles have recently appeared in Italian newspapers, in L'Echo du Merveilleux, in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques, and in the Annals of Psychical Science, referring to physical phenomena which it was alleged took place in the presence of a new medium, Francesco Carancini. The séances at which these phenomena occurred were held in the residence of Baron von Erhardt, a gentleman who has resided in Rome for some time and who has been instrumental in bringing the alleged supernormal powers of Carancini before the notice of several scientific men. The phenomena said to occur in connection with this medium appear, prima facie, to be very similar to those produced by Eusapia Palladino, such as the transportation and levitation of objects, impressions on clay, and luminous appearances; but there are others which it is asserted take place with Carancini and which, so far as my reading and experience go, are dissimilar to Eusapia's. I refer to the writing on lamp black in Latin, modern and ancient Greek, and in an unknown language, the passing of objects into closed wire cages, and the taking off of the medium's jacket while his hands are presumably securely held by the controllers.
The article that appeared in the April, 1909, number of the Annals of Psychical Science is illustrated by flashlight photographs which purport to show the phenomena at the actual moment of their occurrence. Musical instruments are seen apparently floating in the air, and larger objects, such as tables, appear to have been raised from the floor and placed upon the medium's shoulders. In one photograph Carancini is seen levitated. I shall have occasion to refer to these photographs later on.
Dr. Lancenotti communicated the above mentioned article to the Annals of Psychical Science. He states therein that "Carancini seems to have discovered his mediumship one evening when he was present at a séance at which Politi was the medium." A few days afterwards another seance took place at which Carancini was persuaded to try his powers as a medium, and these were, according to Dr. Lancellotti, almost at once shown to be even stronger than those of Politi himself. Carancini, for some time, continued to officiate as Medium in spiritistic circles only. It was not until the beginning of last year that a series of more carefully controlled experiments could be carried out. These took place, as I have already stated, in the residence of Baron von Erhardt in Rome. During the course of a conversation with Professors Bottazzi and Galeotti (two gentlemen who were present at some of our recent seances with Eusapia Palladino) Mr. Feilding and I were told of the existence of Carancini.
Owing to the short time that I had at my disposal between the termination of the Eusapia seances and Christmas day I was obliged to hurry back to England, but Mr. Feilding while passing through Rome in December, 1908, had an opportunity of assisting at two sittings with this medium. Dr. Schiller happening to be in Rome also assisted at these sittings, and subsequently attended other seances, and Mr. Feilding and he were sufficiently interested in what they observed to recommend the Council to engage in a more systematic study of the case.
Signor Carancini was accordingly invited to England, and during the months of July and August, 1909, gave a series of thirteen séances. Nine of these took place in Mr. Feilding's house in John Street, Mayfair, and four in the country residence of a mutual friend of Mr. Feilding and myself. At these last a lady was present who was believed to be a Physical Medium. It was thought advisable to try some experiments in the presence of this lady and Carancini.
I was asked to undertake the general conduct of the sittings and to look after the comfort of the Medium. Carancini does not speak English. I spent with him the greater part of his stay in this country. I understand Italian and was consequently of service to him.
Mr. Feilding was present at twelve of the sittings, Mr. Sydney Scott at eight, Sir William Crookes at four, Lady Crookes at three, Sir Lawrence Jones at four, Dr. Wm. MacDougall at two, Mr. Sidgwick and Miss Isabel Newton at one, and I at all the thirteen. Various other friends of Mr. Feilding and myself were also invited to several of the sittings in order to make a larger Circle in accordance with the Medium's request. Carancini is accustomed to sit outside the cabinet with his back to it. An oblong table, such as a small kitchen table, is placed in front of him, upon which he places his hands. These are controlled by the sitters on either side by holding his hands or by Carancini placing his hands on theirs. His feet are also controlled by the feet of the same sitters. At our seances the controllers took their boots off to enable them better to feel the Medium's feet.
With Eusapia Palladino the musical instruments and other objects used in the transportations are generally placed inside the cabinet, but with Carancini they are placed, as a rule, outside on shelves or small tables at his side and at a short distance from him.
I have already made mention of the writing in foreign languages on smoked glass and of the passage of objects into a closed wire case. In the hope that these phenomena would take place with us I had a case made like two picture frames put together, with a glass front and a glass back to them. The inner surface of one of the glass plates was smoked, and could be seen through the other plate, but the smoked surface could not be tampered with without separating the two picture frames. These were securely sealed together. I also procured a wire cage, the door and wires of which were strongly soldered. It was impossible for an object of a larger bulk than the space between the wires to enter the cage, except by breaking it, unless super-normally. The smoked frame and the wire cage were examined by Mr. Feilding and myself, at the commencement of each sitting, to verify that no writing was then on the smoked glass and that no object had been introduced into the cage. Besides these test apparatus Sir William Crookes supplied two rings cut out of a piece of parchment. The threading of these rings together without either being damaged would have conclusively proved the possibility of the passage of matter through matter. Other objects, such as a tambourine, a toy trumpet, a bell, a zither, an india-rubber ball, etc., were also placed on the table on the right of the Medium and on the tray stand and the steps of a ladder on his left. At the third seance, and at subsequent ones, a chair was put inside the cabinet with one or two objects on it. An electrical apparatus with white and red globes hung from the ceiling over the séance table. The intensity of the light could be regulated (from light sufficiently strong for the reading of small print to a mere glimmer) by means of a commutator which rested on the stenographer's table. This was always done in accordance with the Medium's request. In other respects he willingly submitted to any precautions that were from time to time suggested. A three-leaved clothes horse, 6 feet in height, upon which a fine mesh hammock net had been tightly stretched and nailed, was placed behind him, with the two outer leaves one on each side of him, at the John Street seances, so as to prevent contact with any of the objects placed according to his wont for transportation. I had some pieces of cardboard painted with luminous paint sewn to his coat sleeves close to his wrists.
The general procedure at Carancini's seances is as follows: After the sitters have taken their places round the seance table and formed the chain, i.e. taken hold of each other's hands, and the control of the Medium has been established, he requests them to keep silence for a short time and then asks them to talk. While they are doing so Carancini goes into what purports to be a state of trance. An alleged Spirit Guide named Giuseppe then controls him and produces the principal manifestations. Questions asked are now answered by Giuseppe through the Medium or by means of raps.
I will now describe the phenomena that took place at our sittings, giving extracts from the stenographic notes taken at the time.
Seance I. July 30th, 1909
Mrs. Sidgwick controlling on the left of Medium. Mr. Baggally on the right.
In very dim light.
Mrs. Sidgwick reports: Raps on my chair. I was touched behind at the back just above the seat of my chair, as if it came through the back of the chair. It was not a definable touch, only a feeling of something.
Sir William Crookes controlling on left. Dr. Wm. MacDougall on right.
The small tray-stand on left of Medium, behind the net screen and close to Sir William Crookes, is heard to fall over.
Sir William immediately says: I had my hand holding his between my fingers and the palm of my hand. He was grasping my fingers between his thumb and the first and second fingers and so tightly that it became almost painful. The foot control was perfect. On the white light being turned up the tray-stand and the various objects upon it are found upset on the floor.
Controllers - Sir Wm. Crookes on left. Lady Crookes on right.
Notes taken in the dark. Raps, apparently on the floor behind Medium, follow raps made by ourselves on the table. Both controllers report that his feet are under control, and his hands are quite still on the table. Scratches are heard on the woodwork of the net screen. The Medium said he was going to try and produce one more phenomenon. He then raised his two hands, held on each side by Sir William and Lady Crookes, made a great effort and a noise was heard. Giuseppe then said that he had lifted the screen 10 centimetres and it had then fallen back. When the white light was turned up the screen is found changed in position and partly pushed into the opening of the cabinet.
Controllers - Sir Wm. Crookes on left. Mr. Scott on right.
Light diminished to the last point.
Three raps are heard, position indeterminable, sort of dull thuds low down. Then series of raps apparently inside cabinet. Feet of Medium stated to be immovable by both controllers. Hands motionless on table. The Medium asks the controllers to hold his legs well and to place them so that they can feel them all the way down from the knee. Medium asks that somebody should knock on the table. Feilding raps four rhythmical knocks; they are answered like an echo, apparently in the cabinet. Feilding does it again and an extremely bad imitation follows, all wrong.
Sir William puts his hand between the back of the Medium's chair and curtain. Feilding then asked that raps should be made inside cabinet. Raps are beard of a different quality of sound and Sir William said that they sounded near where his hand was. Sir William says: The Medium was moving my hand, and whenever he moved my hand backwards a rap sounded on the floor.
Controllers - Sir Lawrence Jones on right. Sir William Crookes on left.
Bright red light.
Raps that cannot be localized, apparently low down on floor behind Sir William Crookes. Both hands visible and held on the table motionless. Feet held as before motionless.
Light diminished to No. 3. He moves Sir William's hand, and synchronously with the movements raps are heard low down behind him. He does the same with his right hand with Sir Lawrence Jones' hand with the same result.
Medium asks for paper and pencil and writes something. The writing, when the light was turned up, contained the words, "Non sono Giuseppe sono Zurucruft," (I am not Joseph, I am Zurucruft,) and then follow a few lines of what looks like Tamil. Speaking he says that he was an Indian who died 4000 years ago.
Feilding says: I have asked Giuseppe who it was who answered saying he was an Indian who died 4000 years ago. Giuseppe replied that "HE" did, as the other entity cannot speak. He says they cannot communicate. He only knows by intuition what he wants. When asked how he knew he was an Indian who died 4000 years ago, he said that he has been told by 'High Spirits'. He says that Zurucruft often turns up at seances, and that it is quite possible that Padre Ludovico da Castelfino may turn up and address a few words of theological exhortation. He was a theologian of the Bishop of Torraeini, who died 25 or 26 years ago.
Controllers - Sir Lawrence Jones on right. Mr. Scott on left.
Bright red light.
The Medium stretches his right hand, clasping Sir Lawrence Jones' hand, three times towards net screen, and the movements are followed by three raps apparently on the floor. The Medium rapped Sir Lawrence's knuckles on the table twice, which is followed by raps somewhere behind the Medium's chair. He does the same with his left hand with Mr. Scotts knuckles, and the knocks are followed by raps somewhere behind the Medium's chair.
The Medium enters the cabinet. The screen with net work is placed round him.
Medium takes his coat off with the luminous patches on.
A small single light of a bluish colour is seen rather high up. Another light lower down. All the time Medium was gasping a good deal. Another light towards the middle of the curtain. Another light from the right side of the cabinet, curtain. Two more lights which appear to be separating. A light quite near the left wall appeared. A larger and stronger light low down about three feet from the ground. It is seen by all again. Giuseppe asks us to awaken the Medium. Mr. Scott and Mr. Baggally went into the cabinet immediately afterwards and did not perceive any smell of phosphorus.
After seance Mr. Baggally examined the medium all over in order to see if there were any hidden mechanism or electric batteries or anything that would produce the lights, but found nothing except a box of safety matches.
Controllers - Sir Lawrence Jones on left. Mr. Feilding on right. Red light lowered to No. 4.
Medium makes gestures with Feilding's hand in the air. Raps are heard down apparently on the floor to mediums left. Quite unevidential. Feilding asks him what he did when he wanted to produce a phenomenon. He said, "I send out fluid." Feilding asked, did he mean muscular contraction? He said, yes.
Controllers - Dr. Wm. MacDougall on left. Mr. Haselton on right.
Medium raps on table and a rap is heard apparently behind him on the floor. Feilding thereupon gives three raps on the table, and three raps answer apparently on the same place as before. The medium holds his hands up and raps are heard behind him. Controllers report feet quite still. Medium writes. When writing is examined after white light was turned up, it proved to be some more of that apparently oriental writing.
Medium makes a convulsive effort. MacDougall feels a touch on the elbow - then Giuseppe says, You must stop at once; wake the medium instantly.
Controllers - Mr. Scott on left. Mr. C. on right.
Red light lowered to lowest point.
Medium holds his right hand holding G's hand out to screen. His hand trembles. Raps are heard.
Thumps are heard. The Medium asks the controllers to ascertain that the chair legs are on the carpet. Medium raps twice on table. Raps are heard in reply. Controllers are changed. Mr. Haselton is now on the right. Mr. Claude Askew on the left.
Mrs. Askew, who is seated next to Mr. Haselton, says: I feel a touch; it touched my shoulder four times lightly.
Mr. Askew says: I am tapped on left shoulder. The controllers report hands of medium held; position of his head unknown.
Haselton now says: The left hand back of my chair was touched. I wondered what it was, and I was tapped three times by a distinct hand. It was a hand; that I am certain of. Medium's hands reported to be on table and held separately.
Controllers - Mr. C. on the right. Mr. Baggally on the left.
Mrs. Lowry reports: I was touched behind. There is some one behind my chair. My name has been called twice.
Before referring to the four other sittings which were held at the country residence of a mutual friend of Mr. Feilding and myself, and at which sittings the lady who was believed to possess supernormal physical powers was present, I will comment on the phenomena that I have just described. The first thing that strikes a reader of the above stenographic notes is the paucity in number of the phenomena and the unsatisfactory conditions under which they were obtained. With the exception of some of the raps which occurred in light, more or less strong, all the other phenomena took place in complete darkness.
Carancini appeared to be willing to submit to any precautions, but somehow no manifestations occurred, with the exception of the raps, until after the light had been completely extinguished at the request of the alleged control Giuseppe. The phenomena were therefore quite unlike those that Mr. Feilding, Mr. Carrington, and I witnessed with Eusapia Palladino and to which we attach great importance on account of their occurrence in good light.
It will be noted that, with the exception of the raps on Mrs. Sidgwick's chair at the first séance, all the raps were heard to sound behind the Medium, apparently on the floor or in the cabinet behind his chair.
The fact that the raps were heard in that locality and in close proximity to the Medium suggests the probability that they were produced by his tipping the chair on which he sat and striking the floor with the back legs. Mr. Scott, when he was controlling, noticed a suspicious movement of the Medium's body when he heard some of the raps, and Mr. C. at seance VIII just after the note in stenographer's report which reads, "Thumps are heard. The Medium asks the controllers to ascertain that the chair legs are on the carpet," makes the following observation, "I should like to correct that as I was looking round to see if the legs were on the carpet, as I thought, I saw the legs of the chair moving." The raps at the first seance, though not loud, were sharp and distinct, but after a carpet had been placed under Carancini's chair they changed in sound, being then more like thuds. The controller's statements that when the raps were heard the Medium's hands and feet were immovable do not prove that he might not have been tipping his chair at those times. His hands and feet could have been perfectly still and yet his body could have tipped the light chair upon which he sat. I have stated that at the first sitting Mrs. Sidgwick heard a few faint raps on her chair. They were inaudible to me. I sat on the other side of Carancini controlling him. These and the raps at the second séance, after the Medium had asked the controllers to hold his legs well and place them so that they could feel them all the way down from the knee, were the most evidential.
Taking into consideration the difficulty of localizing sound, the possibility of raps being produced by the cracking of a joint (I have met individuals who made raps in this manner) and the above stated suspicious circumstance of the Medium's chair having been seen to move and also of the chancre in the character of the sounds when a carpet was placed under Carancini's chair, there seems strong evidence that the raps were produced normally.
I attach no importance to the scratches heard on the woodwork of the screen nor to the change of position of the screen at seance II. The back of the Medium's chair was in close proximity to the framework, and Carancini's convulsive movements could have produced these phenomena by the rubbing and pushing of his chair against the framework.
The writing by the Medium in apparently oriental characters is of no evidential value whatever. Even if it had been really in an oriental language this would not have precluded the possibility of his having learnt to form the characters previously in his normal condition. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that some of these characters written by the Medium in our own presence resembled others that are shown in one of the photographs in the Annals of Psychical Science. These last were alleged to have been produced by an independent entity, not by the Medium. The name of the Indian who died 4000 years ago, "Zurucruft," has a German sound about it, as if it were intended to represent the past participle of zurückrufen, to call back.
When considering the evidential value of a phenomenon it should be borne in mind that if the conditions under which it occurs are such that it could have been brought about by normal means, then a normal explanation should be accepted, as this would be in accordance with our ordinary principles of reasoning.
I apply this rule to the consideration of the other phenomena which took place at our sittings in total darkness.
The falling over of the tray-stand behind the net when one of the Medium's hands controlled by Sir William Crookes was brought in close proximity to it, although he did not touch the stand, might have been caused by pushing the net against it. Sir William Crookes' hand was pressed against the net and the net yielded a few inches. The tray-stand stood at the time quite close behind the net.
The lights seen at seance V, within or close to the cabinet, appeared after Carancini entered the cabinet by himself and consequently when he was uncontrolled. He sat on a chair inside the cabinet with the clothes horse surrounding him; but this precaution, which had been suggested by himself, would not have prevented him from standing on the chair, as there was no netting on the top of the clothes horse. A suspicious noise was heard as if the Medium were getting on his chair just before the lights appeared high up towards the ceiling. One of the sitters, Mrs. Paton, made the remark at the time - "It sounds as if he were getting on the chair." The Medium took his jacket off with the luminous patches on it before he sat in the cabinet. This was a very suspicious action on his part. It suggested that he did not wish the position of his hands to be known at the time that the lights were seen.
When the seance was over I searched the Medium and found in his pocket a box of safety matches, and amongst them a few phosphorus matches. I took one of these, and after the Medium had retired I produced, in the dark, with the phosphorus match that I had taken, before Mr. Scott and Miss Saunders the stenographer, lights which were in all appearances identical with those that had been seen at the seance.
The phenomena of the touches remains to be dealt with. Before I refer to these I will relate our experiences at the country residence of our friend. Some of these experiences have a bearing on the methods that in my opinion could have been used for the production of the touches. The results obtained at Mr. Feilding's house up to the eighth sitting had proved almost wholly negative. There were, it is true, a certain number of phenomena besides the raps, but these phenomena had occurred in complete darkness and were of such a nature that the possibility of their having been produced by normal means could not be excluded. Both Mr. Feilding and I were greatly disappointed at these results. We had hoped that the members of our Council and other sitters who attended the sittings would have witnessed phenomena similar to, and under as good test conditions as, those that we had obtained with Eusapia Palladino at Naples. We did not, however, abandon all hope, but decided to continue the investigation in a different environment and in the presence of fresh sitters.
The boisterous manifestations that we obtained at the first sitting in the residence of our friend, seemed fully to justify us in the course that we took.
Miss X, the lady to whom I have referred, who was believed to be a Physical Medium, sat as controller on Carancini's right, and our host in a like capacity on his left.
Mr. Feilding graphically describes what took place at this seance in a letter to Miss Johnson. These are his words:
August 12th, 1909
We had a seance last night. The results were sensational to a degree, also exasperating. Unfortunately we had not got our luminous patches nor the network screen; nor were Baggally and I controlling, also it was exceedingly dark. I had every reason to believe that the control was well carried out. The controllers constantly reported that they had the band firmly by the thumb and their legs were right round the Medium's legs. In these conditions we had a large number of pinches and touches and transportations of objects. Some of the manifestations were rather violent and the ladies screamed.
[Our hostess], who sat number two from the Medium, had the shoulder of her dress pulled right down, a handkerchief was wiped all over her face, thrust down the front of her dress inside, and then pulled out again right across her husband, who was controlling.
Miss X., who was controlling on the right (and although very nervous appears to have frozen on like grim death), was seized by the leg and nearly pulled out of her chair, and subsided in shrieks upon the floor, still grasping the Medium's hand when the light was turned up. Objects at a distance of more than a foot from my extended hand, when sitting in the Medium's position, were moved, one of them being transported to a second table, added at the further end of the Medium's table, in order to accommodate the large circle. A hand felt about all over Miss X. and Miss W., who was, holding her in her arms to give her courage.
Further, a dinner bell placed on a chair in the cabinet fell to the ground with a loud crash.
At last, thought we, the phenomena are genuine. Mr. Feilding and I therefore decided to use extra precautions and to control the Medium ourselves. We did so the following evening, Mr. Feilding controlling on the right and I on the left.
At this sitting Miss X. occupied a seat next to me on my left.
Shortly after the light was extinguished the usual raps were heard, apparently on the floor behind the Medium, but what surprised me was that they were accompanied by loud raps under Miss X.'s chair. I very gradually lowered my left hand, which I had free, and placed it under the chair of this lady, till I could feel the heels of her feet. I then detected Miss X. striking the floor with the point of one of her boots, thus producing the loud raps that were heard under her.
This discovery immediately gave rise in my mind to the suspicion that some of the phenomena of the previous seance had been produced by her. I also could no longer feel sure that she had continuously held the Medium's hand while she was controlling him. The evidence for the genuineness of the manifestation was further vitiated by Mr. Feilding and my detecting the Medium, shortly after, in the fraudulent production of phenomena by means of his right hand, which he had liberated after resorting to the trick of substitution of hands. Owing to the luminous patches on his sleeves the first substitution was immediately detected. After this the control of his hands was conducted with deliberate carelessness and the substitution was repeated four or five times. It was carried out with extreme caution. We could see the Medium's right hand being retired, at a snail's pace, from contact with Mr. Feilding's hand while he substituted his left hand for it. After this Carancini passed his free hand under the table, touched us, and pulled our coats. It should be noted that at the time of the substitutions the Medium purported to be in a state of trance and under control of Giuseppe. I am unable to say whether this was really the case. If it was, Giuseppe must have been the guilty party who perpetrated the frauds, and he must have practised them for a long time previously to this series of sittings. I sometimes think that, with Physical Mediums, the alleged control serves as a very convenient scapegoat, ever ready to hand to bear the blame which otherwise would have attached to the Mediums when they are found out in trickery.
Only three phenomena now remain to be described, i.e. the movement of a pencil, the touches on the shoulders of two sitters at the third sitting at our friend's house, and the luminous appearances at the fourth sitting. A pencil and paper had been placed on the séance table at a distance of about 3 feet in front of the Medium. This pencil was heard, in total darkness, to move apparently independently two or three times. I must observe that previous to the first movement Carancini had leaned his head on his outstretched arms on the table. By this action his hands, which were tied to the hands of our host and myself, were brought close to the pencil, and it was not impossible for him to have taken hold of it with the tips of two of his fingers and, after he sat back in his chair and raised his hands, to have let the pencil drop on the table and thus produce the sound. When the pencil was heard to move a second time 'Giuseppe' said, "I did not do that." I have a strong suspicion that Miss X., who was seated opposite to where the pencil was, produced this phenomenon. I permit myself to say this as Miss X. has since admitted to our host her offences in respect to these sittings.
Carancini at this seance not only had his hands held by the controllers but his wrists were tied to theirs. It was not possible for him to effect a substitution of hands, nevertheless our host and I, who were controlling, felt light touches on our shoulders on the sides next to the Medium. When I received a touch I previously felt a movement of the Medium's arm which gave me the impression that he was leaning his body towards me. The touch felt as if he were pressing my shoulder gently with his nose.
The only manifestation at the last seance, held in our friend's house, was the appearance of a few lights, one at a time, in or near the cabinet, after Carancini had entered it by himself uncontrolled. Each light resembled a phosphorus match head when rubbed between the fingers. After the sitting was over the Medium was insistent about my searching him. He possibly may have had in his mind the fact that I had found a box of matches on him on a previous occasion. I searched him, but found no matches this time. A single phosphorus match, however, would have sufficed for the production of the lights, for it is so small an object that it could have been easily concealed about his person after the lights were seen.
I have said enough to show that all the phenomena that we obtained with Carancini were of an unsatisfactory nature. With the exception of the raps they all took place in absolute darkness.
The Medium, or 'Giuseppe,' was detected several times carrying out the trick of substitution of hands, after which the sitters got touches. When he was not able to effect a substitution, owing to his hands being tied, there were indications that he then made use of his head to touch the sitters.
It is by the above methods that be, in my opinion, produced the touches which were felt at the John Street sittings.
The only touch that could not have been produced by either of the above methods was the one felt, in the dim light, by Mrs. Sidgwick at the first seance. I understood Mrs. Sidgwick to say, however, just after she reported the touch, that she came to the conclusion that she was mistaken in the cause of her sensation, which she found was really due to the pressure of the bottom bar of her chair against her back.
Great importance is attached, by believers in Carancini's phenomena, to the flash-light photographs which were taken at his séances. Let us, for a moment, consider what their value is for evidential purposes. Being instantaneous photographs, they can, by their very nature, only show the levitated object for a moment. They do not show the events that cause the object to be in the position in which it is seen.
We read in Dr. Lancellotti's paper that Carancini's control, 'Giuseppe,' indicates the exact moment the photographs can be taken by calling out the word "Fuoco."
Now, what is to prevent a fraudulent Medium, - just at the moment that he throws a small object into the air, or after he has pinned or booked it to the cabinet curtain, or after he has placed a heavier object on his shoulders, or on another point of support, - from calling out the word "Fuoco," or any other word as a signal for the photograph to be taken at that convenient moment? It will be noted that in the photographs only small objects appear to be floating in the air. All the heavier ones have a point of support. Carancini himself at the moment of his alleged levitation, appears to be standing on his own chair.
It may be said that the Medium could not have produced the phenomena fraudulently, as the photographs show that his hands were controlled at the time. To this I reply that although both Carancini's hands were in contact with those of the controllers at the instant that the photographs were taken, yet it was quite possible that one of his hands was free just before he called out the word "Fuoco." I have ample grounds for making this assertion. These grounds are based on the careful observations that Mr. Feilding and I were able to make of the process that Carancini or 'Giuseppe' resorted to when he carried out the substitutions of hands at the time that we were controlling him. It was very interesting to watch the rapidity with which he replaced his right hand on Mr. Feilding's immediately after he had brought about a phenomenon. He would touch us or pull our coats with his free right hand and immediately afterwards lift his left hand from the back of Mr. Feilding's and replace it by his right hand, the action being accompanied by a strong convulsive movement of his body, by his then violently pulling our hands, in contact with his own, up into the air, and by the uttering of a loud groan.
Flash-light photographs do not prove the genuineness of a phenomenon. They merely give us a picture of what is actually happening at any one time without showing us the preceding actions of the medium leading up to the event.
In regard to the substitution of hands that was detected at one of our sittings when the Medium professed to be in a trance, if it be asserted that this may have been an action for which the Medium was not responsible, I may repeat that it was performed at the time with great deliberation and apparent care to avoid detection, and also that such a trick, to be carried out with success, requires previous training, which it is difficult to suppose could have been effected in a trance state.
In conclusion, I would point out that the phenomena obtained at these seances differed fundamentally from those we witnessed with Eusapia Palladino at Naples, not only in that Carancini's phenomena (with the exception of the raps) occurred in complete darkness, whereas with Eusapia Palladino many of the phenomena took place in light when her hands and her whole body were in full view, a condition which is of course essential for any good evidence for supernormality; but also in that there was definite positive evidence of fraud in Carancini's case.
The article above was taken from "Sittings with Eusapia Palladino and Other Studies" (New York: University Books, 1963).
The Physical Medium Francesco Carancini during his seance the table is levitating over the very heavily bound Medium.
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