SEANCES page 4 

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 Medium Jack Webber in a seance where the Spirit World are using him to levitate the trumpet to talk to a sitter while the Medium is tied to the carver chair by his arms and legs. Notice the ectoplasm is invisible to the photographic film. This is an infra red flash that was used. Notice also the luminous plaque on the floor in front of Jack the other one can just be seen at the right hand side at the bottom of the picture.

In 1905 Eusapia Palladino came to Paris, where 1903 Nobel-laureate physicists Pierre Curie and Marie Curie and, again, future Nobel laureate Charles Richet were among those who investigated her.

Other members of the Curies' circle of scientist friends--including William Crookes; future Nobel laureate Jean Perrin and his wife Henriette Perrin; Louis Georges Gouy; and Paul Langevin--were also exploring spiritualism, as was Pierre Curie's brother Jacques Curie, a fervent believer.[11]

The Curies regarded mediumistic seances as "scientific experiments" and took detailed notes. According to historian Anna Hurwic, they thought it possible to discover in Spiritualism the source of an unknown energy that would reveal the secret of radioactivity.

On July 24, 1905, Pierre Curie reported to his friend Gouy: "We have had a series of seances with Eusapia Palladino at the [Society for Psychical Research]."

It was very interesting, and really the phenomena that we saw appeared inexplicable as trickery tables raised from all four legs, movement of objects from a distance, hands that pinch or caress you, luminous apparitions. All in a [setting] prepared by us with a small number of spectators all known to us and without a possible accomplice. The only trick possible is that which could result from an extraordinary facility of the Medium as a magician. But how do you explain the phenomena when one is holding her hands and feet and when the light is sufficient so that one can see everything that happens?
Pierre was eager to enlist Gouy. Palladino, he informed him, would return in November, and "I hope that we will be able to convince you of the reality of the phenomena or at least some of them." Pierre was planning to undertake experiments "in a methodical fashion."

Marie Curie

Marie Curie also attended Palladino's seances, but does not seem to have been as intrigued by them as Pierre.

On April 14, 1906, just five days before his accidental death, Pierre Curie wrote Gouy about his last seance with Palladino: "There is here, in my opinion, a whole domain of entirely new facts and physical states in space of which we have no conception."

Charles Richet, who would later win the 1913 Nobel Prize in physiology and who carried out decades of research into psychic phenomena, participated in the Curies' investigations of Eusapia Palladino and left an account of a seance:

It took place at the Psychological Institute at Paris. There were present only Mme. Curie, Mme. X., a Polish friend of hers, and P. Courtier, the secretary of the Institute. Mme. Curie was on Eusapia’s left, myself on her right, Mme. X, a little farther off, taking notes, and M. Courtier still farther, at the end of the table. Courtier had arranged a double curtain behind Eusapia; the light was weak but sufficient. On the table Mme. Curie’s hand holding Eusapia’s could be distinctly seen, likewise mine also holding the right hand. . . We saw the curtain swell out as if pushed by some large object. . . I asked to touch it . . . I felt the resistance and seized a real hand which I took in mine. Even through the curtain I could feel the fingers … I held it firmly and counted twenty-nine seconds, during all which time I had leisure to observe both of Eusapia’s hands on the table, to ask Mme. Curie if she was sure of her Control . . . After the twenty-nine seconds I said, 'I want something more, I want uno anello (a ring).' At once the hand made me feel a ring . . . It seems hard to imagine a more convincing experiment . . . In this case there was not only the materialization of a hand, but also of a ring. (apport)

Sitters holding hands around a small table.

I SEE ECTOPLASM FOR THE FIRST TIME


A year or two later I had the following experience in a seance attended by fifteen or twenty people, including my wife and some friends. After the visits of a number of loved ones to each sitter, Miss Firefly (It was again a Warren Smith seance) said she had someone special for us, and a gentleman materialized on our right, standing close enough to be clearly visible under the red light. He looked a distinguished and learned gentleman; and he was, for he introduced himself as Dr. William James. He said he was currently engaged in leading a team effort on his side which was conducting an experiment in a new way of orienting people who were victims of sudden death. The habitual way was to conduct them one by one to their closest relatives who had predeceased them. But Dr. James was leading a mission to do something different. They were trying this experiment on a group of about forty college students, who, accompanied by their two professors, had just recently died in a plane crash over the Andes Mountains while returning from a South American field trip. He said that the idea behind this experiment was that both at their college and on this long and interesting field trip these forty-two people had forged a real bond, which one might call a soul-bond.
We are to see, said Dr. James, if keeping them all together works better to smooth the passage than the customary way...and actually I can report that so far it seems to be working indeed very well. Meanwhile, we were punctuating his talk with a number of questions and words of admiration and approval.
Now, he said, would you like to meet one of the students who, as you call it, died in the plane crash, and has been a part of our experiment? Naturally, we said yes. and a young man materialized and stood next to him. We talked with him and were struck by his total normality...no evidence of trauma to heart or mind caused by his sudden death.
As to our main topic, ectoplasm, this memorable incident is of course just one more instance of a successful materialization, made possible by a very gifted Physical Medium who can provide ample supplies of ectoplasm ...enough to produce not one but two fully formed persons at once. But the main event that day as it concerns ectoplasm is what immediately followed. The young man departed, and now a gentleman about Dr. James' age appeared to our left and a few steps closer to us than James. Dr. James introduced this new comer as his old friend and scientific colleague and fellow President of the Society for Psychical Research Dr. Charles Richet. Richet smiled and in a very modest and easy-going voice said, Well, I can guess what you want me to show you, eh? we said, with a laugh, in one voice, Ectoplasm Richet then said, Well, I'll try to do it, but I'll have to ask one of you to volunteer. While I hesitated, wondering whether I should risk it, a young man seated to my right rose and volunteered. Richet addressed him by name and asked him to stand facing the audience, while he took his position to the young man's left. Richet then proceeded very gently to tease this white, filmy cotton-candy sort of substance out of the area of the young man's solar plexus. Richet was very nonchalant and his volunteer was taking it rather well. Richet told a few jokes as the wispy beginnings became a veritable outpouring and the exuded ectoplasm now as thick and wide as a white bath towel very slowly settled to the floor.
Now Richet looked at us in mock consternation and asked, What are we going to do with all this stuff? Tsk, tsk, let's see if there's any way to get it back. Now he teased upward and sure enough what had been unreeled gradually returned. When at last no ectoplasm showed outside the volunteer, Dr. Richet said he could return to his seat and added, After the seance is over I want you to lie down for a while--first have a glass or two of water-and then you will be perfectly all right.
At this point of experience I had seen many examples of the effects of ectoplasm, as in trumpet seances, and I had seen quite a few materializations wherein those manifesting do so by transforming the ectoplasm by the exercise of their wills into a body they can move in, touch with, and speak through. Now, in the James-Richet seance, I had seen the stuff itself in what might be called the raw and unfabricated form-das ding an sich. There were several more learning experiences to come.
A year later, my wife and I and several of our children attended an afternoon trumpet seance. After we came out, we sat in the bright sun. My youngest, a boy then of eleven, a very direct and outspoken young man, looked at me and with a disgusted grimace said, Some gook is coming out of your nose. My wife then noticed and said, It's not mucus; it's ectoplasm; and it's not coming out; it's going back!
Which was indeed the case. It reminded me of the fact that on several occasions I had experienced for some time after a seance a feeling of depletion, or drain of energy. Once, noticing the way I felt, a veteran seance-goer said, Just go down and lie on the grass for a half hour, and you'll feel all right.
This all reminded me of Kay, a friend of ours who was a sensitive. She told us she frequently found when weighing herself before and after a seance that she would lose up to five pounds. Later I learned that the Controls draw the ectoplasm not only and primarily from the Medium but also from some, or indeed many of the sitters.
At this point I wish to turn to the third and last of the authorities I will cite. This is a booklet of 35 pages entitled Psychic Facts: A series of fifteen lessons on the laws governing mental mediumship and physical mediumship by Peggy Barnes. This book was written specifically by a veteran Medium and for Mediums in training as well as sitters desiring to really understand what was going on.

 

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