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Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

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it is light enough to see both the medium's hands on the
table in front of you, it is useless and childish to talk of sub-
stitution — it would be just as obvious as a substitution prac-
ticed by a friend in the course of ordinary conversation. And
all the best phenomena during the first two seances took
place in a light sufficiently good to see clearly every move-
ment of the medium, and not only that, to see the very tex-
ture of the skin of her hands, the color of her finger nails,
etc. Under such circumstances it would be absurd, we felt,
to talk of substitution, which only becomes possible when
the light had been so far lowered that the hands became in-
visible to us. Throughout our sittings this very rarely hap-
pened. All our best phenomena took place in what might
be called good light — light sufficiently good, that is, to enable
us to see the whole of the medium's body, and to see that
she did not produce the movements herself.

Even when Eusapia's hands rested on ours, it was an easy
matter, as a rule, to feel which hand was on ours. Except
when Eusapia was preparing to effect a substitution of hands
(at which times her control became very furtive and un-
certain), her hands rested on ours quietly throughout; and we
could feel, from the relative position of the thumb and
fingers, which hand we were holding. When the controlling
hand slipped down so that only a portion of the hand would
be felt {e.g., only the fingers), then we would immediately

i62 Eusapia Palladino

move our hand about in such a way that Eusapia was forced
to cover our hand with the whole of hers. This served the
double purpose of showing us which hand we were holding,
and also of proving that the hand covering ours was a real
hand of flesh and blood, and not a mere dummy. When we
moved our hands in this manner, calling for completer con-
trol, the hand covering ours would invariably and at once
react in a perfectly natural manner; would grip our hand,
move the fingers, change its position, etc., as only a natural
hand could do. Moreover, the hand was w^arm and life-
like, and we could feel the texture of the skin. At no time
was there the slightest doubt in our minds that the hand
we were holding was really a human hand ; the only objec-
tion was that we were not always holding enough of the hand.
The portion that we were holding was doubtless the hand of

I should like to dwell upon this point at some length,
for the reason that, in some of our experiments, phenomena
took place when both hands and both feet were certainly
accounted for and stated as being held securely. Such being
the case, it becomes obvious that the phenomena must be
accepted as genuine, unless she managed to substitute a dum-
my hand for one of her own that we were holding. To us,
the suggestion appears absurd, and we are absolutely posi-
tive that nothing of the sort took place, but it is necessary
to state the precautions we took at the time to ascertain that
they were really flesh and blood hands we were holding, so
that these precautions might be stated in the report.

In the first place, then, we had the testimony of our eyes,
for, as we have repeatedly pointed out, during the greater
part of almost every seance, it was quite light enough for
us to see that the hands we were holding were really Eusa-

Eusapia Palladino 163

pia's, and were connected with her body. This only became
questionable when the light was so far reduced as to render
this direct observation impossible — a very small fraction of
the time. On such occasions, we traced the connection of
the hand we were holding with the medium's body, and found
that it invariably joined her body at the shoulder. We also
moved the hand about to see if there was any resistance such
as would be offered by the arm, for it must be remembered
that if Eusapia had substituted a dummy hand for one of her
own, and we had suddenly jerked away the hand we were
holding, we should have jerked away the hand altogether, and
we might have removed this dummy a yard or more away
from Eusapia's body. As a matter of fact, however, we found
that the hand always resisted us, and so was connected with
Eusapia's body in some manner.

In addition to all this, we had the testimony of our sense
of touch. As I have said before, we could alwaj^s feel dis-
tinctly that the hand we were holding was a natural, human
hand, and not a mere dummy. It was warm, and moist, and
kept moving its fingers, and responding to our pressures and
movements as only a natural hand could. When, further, we
take into account the fact that all this only applies to those
portions of the seance when the hands were not visible to lis
(and these portions were but a small fraction of the whole),
we feel quite safe in saying that wc regard it as proved be-
yond doubt that the hands held by us at these sittings were
real hands in every case, and not mere dummies.

Again, as to the disposition of the hands. In a large num-
ber of cases, it is true, both the medium's hands were on
the surface of the table, and on some of these occasions, the
medium was holding the hand of one sitter, and was held by
the sitter on the other side — that is, in the position most

164 Eusapia Palladino

favorable for substitution. I am practically certain, how-
ever, that substitution did not take place, as a matter of fact,
at any time, save on those occasions mentioned in the short-
hand notes. On the two occasions when Eusapia attempted
this (because the force was weak, or for some other reason
best known to herself) we immediately detected this substi-
tution, and even knew that it was going to take place before
it actually did so. We could tell that Eusapia was gradually
working our hands nearer and nearer together, and finally,
when, at an opportune moment, she effected the substitution.
But we had not the slightest difficulty in at once detecting
this, and the resulting phenomena, produced by fraudulent
means, were also strikingly different from the genuine on
both occasions. It struck us at the time that it would be
quite impossible to mistake the one for the other — the gen-
uine for the fraudulent. The character of the phenomenon
was entirely different, and could not be confounded. To
us, these very facts were perhaps the strongest argument for
the genuineness of the phenomena that we could conceive.
The fact that fraud was immediately detected when it was
attempted, and that the resulting phenomena appeared to
us to be entirely different in character from the genuine, were
very strong arguments for thinking that the genuine phe-
nomena were such in reality ; and further assured us that we
should easily have detected other fraudulent manifestations,
had they been attempted.

But during the greater part of all our seances, the hands
were held in such a manner that substitution would have
been impossible. In the first place, the light was generally
sufficient to allow us to clearly see the two hands of the
medium resting on the table ; and we did not have to depend
upon our holding entirely or even primarily. A large part

Eusapia Palladino 165

of the time we should have been content to have no control
at all, so clear were Eusapia's hands ; and we only paid such
close attention to the control and dictated it so carefully in
order that it might appear in the shorthand accounts of the
sittings that we had done so. During a large part of each
sitting, we held one of the medium's hands in her lap and the
other on the table, e.g., or one hand on each corner of the
table; or held the hands in the air; and, on two occasions,
I held both the medium's hands in both of mine, while touches
on my left side took place. During these touches the me-
dium's head was clearly visible to us all, and her feet re-
mained tied to the sitters' chairs on either side of her.
Hardly for a second throughout the whole course of the sit-
tings was the medium's head invisible to us, i.e., the control-
lers on either side of her.

Now a few words as to the control of the feet. As we
have said before, Eusapia is extremely hyperaesthetic about
the control of her feet, and one cannot control them in the
way one would like. This is especially so with the left foot,
as will be seen by referring to the detailed notes. Of course
the obvious deduction to be drawn from this fact is that
Eusapia attempted to force us to relax our control of her
feet, so that she might thereby release them the more easily.
But we are quite assured that this is not the case. During
the levitations of the table, and during some of the best
phenomena that took place (for the production of which her
feet might have been employed), the control of her feet was
practically perfect. On some occasions one of us was under
the table holding both her feet in his two hands; at other
times her feet and legs were tied to the legs of her chair, or
to the chairs of the two controllers on either side of her; on
yet other occasions the "stocks" apparatus efEectually pre-

i66 Eusapia Palladino

vented her from using her feet for the production of spurious
phenomena ; at other times, the light was sufficiently good
for us to see both her feet; while on all occasions, we could
clearly feel the medium's foot pressing on ours, on the ex-
treme opposite sides of the table, and at a sufficiently great
distance from each other to effectually prevent any substi-
tution. We frequently verified the control of the feet with
our hands, and in other ways assured ourselves that her feet
were really pressing on ours, and that the feet were really
Eusapia's. At the very moment of the production of the phe-
nomena we were especially careful to observe the control, and
generally all but disregarded the phenomena in our attempt
to verify the absoluteness of the control.

For all of these reasons, then (largely because Eusapia's
hands and feet were kept so widely separated, were visible as
well as tangible, and were perfectly passive in our grasp),
I consider the hypothesis of substitution as absolutely ex-
cluded throughout our seances — except on those few occa-
sions where our control was relaxed, and Eusapia attempted
substitution. On these occasions, we at once informed Eusa-
pia that the control was not good, and she immediately ad-
mitted that it was not, and replaced her hand under the
safe keeping in one of ours. The psychology of this fraud
will be found discussed at some length on pp. 327-28, 335.

During the levitations of the table, we tried every device
to check the results by making the control as rigid as possible.
Frequently, we lifted the medium's hands above the table a
foot or more while the levitation was in progress, and saw
that there was no connection between her hands and the
table. When her hands remained on the surface of the
table, we often passed our hands under her hands, and es-
pecially under her wrists, to see that she was inserting noth-

Eusapia Palladino 167

ing beneath the edge of the table. We would also pass our
hands between her body and the table, and hold her head
well away from the table — precautions which the amount
of light really rendered unnecessary, but which we did in
order that we might say that we had done so. We ascer-
tained that her skirt was not touching the legs of the table
by passing our hands between the table and the skirt; we
frequently pressed heavily upon her two knees with our hands
and arms ; we controlled her feet with ours, and on several oc-
casions placed a night light under the table, to be better
enabled to see her feet and legs. We tied her legs to the
chair with rope; finally we got under the table and held
her ankles in our hands. In spite of all these precautions,
however, the table continued to rise up into the air without
visible means of support. Accordingly, we devised the
"stocks" apparatus (which will be found fully described in
the notes), in order to check, mechanically, our observations,
and render impossible the use of the medium's feet for pur-
poses of levitation by fraudulent means. Even after the in-
troduction of this apparatus, and the additional precautions
followed by us after its use, we still obtained levitations; and
we were consequently forced to the conclusion that these levi-
tations of the table were not produced by Eusapia, but were
the result of some force or forces as yet unknown.

Throughout our sittings, we never lost sight of one primary
fact, viz., that our object was to establish the facts, and not
to theorize about them. Our sole object was to ascertain
that certain phenomena took place, and that they were not
produced by Eusapia herself by normal means; and we did
not care to speculate on the nature of the force displayed,
but merely to establish its reality. Of course we could not
help commenting on the nature of the force at the time ; but

i68 Eusapia Palladino

such speculations we carefully kept out of the report. Va-
rious theories have been advanced in the past, from time to
time, to explain these facts, but none of them can be regarded
as satisfactory, and none of them really explain all the facts.
Let the facts once gain general acceptance, and the theories
will come in due


Our first seance was held on November 21, 1908, F. and
C. only being present. M., the stenographer, was seated
at a separate table in the next room. We dictated at first
through the partially opened doors. The seance commenced
at 10.35 P.M., in good light. A sixteen-candle power elec-
tric lamp, covered by three thicknesses of thin, brown tissue
paper, hung from the ceiling. We could clearly read the
small print of a Baedeker. For the first half hour, little took
place, except tilts of the table, which had very little eviden-
tial value. Owing to our inexperience, moreover, at dic-
tating notes, these appeared to us totally inadequate, when
re-reading the seance next day, and we accordingly omitted
accounts of all phenomena, up to 11. 04, when our first com-
plete levitation took place.^

Our shorthand account of this seance reads in part as
follows :

"11.04 P'M. The table tilts toward C. Then a com-
plete levitation follows, both medium's hands being on the
table, and both clearly visible.

^ By "complete levitation" we mean the lifting of the table off all four
legs simultaneously. A levitation of this kind is seldom less than six inches
off the ground, and frequently a foot or more. By "partial levitation" we mean
the raising of the table on two, and sometimes onto only one, leg. In complete
levitations the table generally went up horizontally, sometimes momentarily
but occasionally lasting several seconds. A partial levitation would often turn
into a complete levitation — the table going up into the air at an angle.

Eusapia Palladino


"C.^ Both feet being on our feet, my left hand being
across both her knees.

Position I


"F. I looked under the table and clearly saw that her
knees and the table legs were not touching."

Various raps and tilts followed, including one complete
levitation. As we found considerable difficulty in dictating
the control to the stenographer, he entered the room, and

Position II


took up his position at another table, at a distance of eight
or nine feet from the medium. F. and C. changed places,

' Throughout the seances, initials will be found indicating the dictator. Thus,
in this first seance, C = Carrington, F = Feilding, and M = Meeson (our stenog-

170 Eusapia Palladino

at 11.15, when this was going on. During the rest of the
series of sittings the stenographer was invariably present in
the room at his own table. Various tilts and a complete
levitation at 11.26 followed under good conditions. At
11.43 the following incident occurred:

"The table rocks violently.

"F. I am certain that her right leg is not touching the

"C. My right hand being across both knees. Complete
levitation of the table.

"F. I am certain that her right leg is not touching the
table. My right leg was continuously curled round the table
leg. I can see right down the right leg of the table. The
medium removed her hands, and mine, from the table, which
rose right up into the air about two seconds after the hands
had left. My right hand had been pulled up by her about
two feet above the table before it started. [My left hand
was on her right knee.]

"C. Her left foot was on my right foot; my right hand
was held by the medium beneath the table, in her lap, about
one foot from the table. [M. notes that he could see table
in the air, with nobody touching it.]

'C. Medium's left foot was continuously on my right."


Another levitation and further tilts took place, immediately
after this phenomenon. At 11.56 we first saw the famous
"curtain" phenomenon — the curtain blowing out as though
from a wind inside — bulging out the curtain, as the sail of
a ship might be blown out by the wind. The medium held
one of our hands toward the curtain, and the curtain blew
out of its own accord while our hands were at least a foot
away from it. Her hands and knees were also controlled
while this was taking place, and we could see that her head
and body remained immovable.

Eusapia Palladino 171

At 11.58 a complete levltation of the table occurred un-
der excellent conditions. Mr. Feilding was enabled to stoop
down, and pass his hands under the table legs while it was in
the air, showing that it was several inches off the floor. Both
the medium's hands were held away from the table. My
right hand was across both her knees, both her feet were
securely held, and we observed that the table legs did not
touch her skirt in such a manner as to effect the results.
AVhile the table was in the air, Eusapia suddenly brought my
hand down on to the table, and asked me to press downward
as hard as I could, she also pressing downward with her hand
above mine. I used considerable force in an attempt to
force the table to the floor, but for two or three seconds was
unable to do so. Several raps and bulgings of the curtain
followed. Between these bulgings, I felt along the floor,
and between the medium and the curtain, and ascertained
that there was no string or thread which Eusapia was pulling
in order to cause these bulgings. I found none. As a
matter of fact, even if she had succeeded in attaching a string
to the curtain, unknown to us, and pulled it at the critical
moment, the phenomena would have had an entirely dif-
ferent appearance than any which we saw. It would have
come out always at one place, and in a point, as it were,
whereas the bulgings we perceived took place in various
parts of the curtain, and always had a rounded appearance,
as though a head were inside, pushing against the curtain.
Moreover, since both the medium's hands were perfectly
visible in ours, we ascertained that she was not pulling any
thread, or making any movement that would be necessary
in order to accomplish this result. These observations we
checked off repeatedly at later sittings.

Two levitations, two minutes apart, followed by seven


Eusapla Palladino

raps on the table, told us to end the seance, which we did
at 12.30 A.M. At our first sitting we had obtained only
raps, curtain phenomena, and levitatlons of the table.


Our second seance occurred under practically the same
conditions, on the evening of November 23d. Only F. and
C. were present, with the exception of M., the stenographer,
at his separate table. The same light was permitted at
first, though this was afterwards reduced, as the notes will
show. F. controlled the right side of the medium on this
occasion, and C. the left.

Position Throughout

We commenced by asking the medium to obtain raps on
the surface of the table, while her feet and legs are clearly
not touching the table legs. She consents, and kneels on a
chair, her feet away from the table. Her right hand rests
on the table, closely observed by us, and apparently motion-
less. Eusapia then makes two movements with her left
hand, at a distance of about six inches above the table. Two
faint, echolike raps occur in the wood, about a second later.
After obtaining these raps we tied Eusapia's legs to the legs

Eusapia Palladino 173

of our chairs by means of ropes, which were first passed round
each ankle, knotted, and then carried to our chair legs, where
they were securely fastened. This tying occupied thirteen
minutes — from which it may be judged that it was fairly
secure! We then resumed our places at the table, placing
our feet upon her feet and pressing her knees together with
our knees. We then each placed a hand upon one of her
knees, and with our other free hand, each held one of Eusa-
pia's hands upon the table.

Raps and tilts began almost immediately. Some of these
were very remarkable, and one of them ended in a complete
levitation. The table had tilted on to its two right legs. I
was holding the medium's left hand in my hand, over the
table, her left foot pressing on my right foot, my right knee
being in contact with her left knee. Her right hand was
resting on F.'s shoulder, her right knee and foot also being
carefully controlled. The table was then completely levi-
tated, and, while it was in the air, I brought my hand down
to its surface and pressed upon the table strongly, in an at-
tempt to force it to the floor. Eusapia also pressed with her
hand — which was controlled by my hand. In spite of our
united pressure, however, the table remained in the air for
at least two or three seconds, before falling heavily to the

At 11.01, Eusapia's feet and knees being controlled by
our feet, and by our hands, which rested across her knees,
the table tilted away from her — the two nearest legs rising
into the air at least a foot. At the moment this took place,
the medium clenched both fists, and removed them away
from the table, on a line with her waist, to a distance of
about eighteen inches. Both hands were clearly visible, fists
clenched. She sat well back in her chair and we observed


Eusapia Palladino

that there was a clear space of at least nine inches between
her body and the table, during the production of this remark-
able phenomenon.

A series of levitations then followed — succeeding one an-
other so rapidly that we found it difficult to dictate the con-
trol. In spite of our utmost attention and repeated efforts
to check these levitations, by some means or other they con-
tinued to occur in the most exasperating manner. We were
seated merely on the corners of our chairs, constantly peer-
ing beneath the table, noting the distance between her body
and the table, her skirt and the table legs, the exact posi-
tion of her knees, her feet, her hands, her head — holding,
controlling, probing, investigating — all to no purpose. The
table continued to rise into the air in spite of our utmost
precautions and our attempts to prevent it. Our record
of this series reads as follows:

"11.05 P-M. Complete levitation of the table.

"F. The table lifts about six inches, only C.'s and my
hands were on the table, clasped across the middle.

"Another complete levitation of the table.

"F. Nobody's hands are on the table. It goes up all
by itself!

"Another complete levitation of the table.

"C. All hands being off the table. Her right hand was
free, but perfectly visible, and about six inches off the table.

"11. 10. F. asks medium to attempt levitation while
standing up. She agrees, but presently says she cannot stand
any longer. She reseats herself.

"ii.ii. Complete levitation of the table.

"C. Both hands of the medium are about eight inches
above the table. I can clearly feel her left foot across my
right. The leg of the table was not in contact with her

"Another complete levitation of the table.

Eusapia Palladino 175

"F. My left hand was underneath the bottom of the leg
of the table. There was no contact between her and the table
leg. Her right hand is off the table altogether.

"C. There is nine inches between her body and the

Between this time and 11.32 the light was lowered several
times so that we could distinguish merely the outlines of
the medium's body, and the details of her head and hands
upon close inspection. During this period raps, tilts, cur-
tain phenomena, and levitations had continued to take place.
At 11.34 we experienced our first phenomenon of a different
character, consisting in the movement of objects at some dis-
tance from the body of the medium. The conditions of this

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 14 of 27)