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any such theory. And the same objections may be raised,
it seems to me, against the theory of "prolongations," and
all the other theories that have been advanced to explain
these phenomena.

It would appear to me that the most satisfactory hypoth-
esis (and indeed the only one that satisfactorily covers and
explains all the facts in the case) is the spiritistic. I know
that there is a universal dislike for this theory; that it is
a tremendous assumption in the first place ; unable to account
for many of the facts in the second ; and crude, as generally
held, in the third ; but it is the most logical and consistent
one, in the long run, I am convinced. I shall endeavor to
place this hypothesis upon what may be at least a conceivable
basis, after first answering one or two objections that can be
raised to it — legitimate objections, such as those I have ad-
vanced above. I shall pass over that of crudity, as I hope to
remove it before the argument is finished.

First, then, as to the "assumption" that is made in formu-
lating this hypothesis. It may be contended that it is a
mere begging of the question — thus to defend a theory
which it is, in a sense, our object to prove! All the data
of materialism may be urged against this assumption — it
being contended that "spirits" having been eliminated from
the universe, they cannot be present tipping Mme. Pal-
ladino's tables or anyone else's. The hypothesis, it may
be claimed, evades the issue and reverts at one swoop to
mediaeval superstition. That would be the position of many

In reply, I would remind the skeptic that we must at all

Eusapia Palladino 289

events have some theory to explain the facts. And we must
have one that explains all the facts. Now, broadly speaking,
the spiritistic hypothesis does this, and is the only one that
does. By it we can explain the movements of objects, the
playing upon musical instruments, the appearance of human
heads and faces, the materialization of forms, the presence
of an external intelligence, etc. — all of which facts are most
difficult and many of them impossible to explain upon any
other theory. I think it will be granted that, apart from
the inherent difficulty of accepting this theory (and certain
minor objections that might be cleared away and removed
by further experimenting), it most satisfactorily explains all
the facts in the case and includes them all in one general
hypothesis. Certainly this is to be desired. And if this be
granted (as I think it must be), then the only reason for
rejecting the theory is its "inherent" improbability — the im-
probability of there being any such thing as "spirit" in the
universe at all — in short, the general objection founded on
materialism. I at least can see no valid objection on any
other ground (apart from the minor difficulties mentioned
above, which are really difficulties within the problem, not
objections to it), and I shall accordingly turn to a con-
sideration of this objection.

The position of materialism is well known. Matter and
force occupy all the universe; and besides them there is no
substantial reality. Consciousness is merely a by-product —
a result of brain activity, which perishes at the moment of
death. Vitality is the result of chemical combustion ; it is
all very simple! Such a thing as "spirit" would be quite
impossible if materialism were true.

Now, if we were to Undertake to dispute this hypothesis,
we should have to take Into account the whole range of

290 Eusapia Palladino

philosophy, metaphysics, and science — a task certainly be-
yond my powers. Here it need only be said that this theory
is being so far undermined by the newer discoveries that it
is beginning to be given up, even by its former champions
in orthodox science. Matter and force are no longer found
to be indestructible ; consciousness certainly cannot be
dovetailed into any materialistic scheme. Many scientific
writers are now defending the idea that life is something
quite apart from the matter, which forms its incasement, and
certain of us contend that vitality is not such a simple thing
as has been previously believed. However, letting all this
go for the moment, I am content to let my opponent hold
whatever views of the universe he pleases; he may be a
believer in Haeckel's monism if he likes; the only thing I
demand (and upon that I insist) is that he explains on
this theory all the facts. If he can do this he can hold
to his theory; if he cannot, then he must adopt another
theory or modify his sufficiently to explain and cover the
facts. That is the' ultimate test and the only real one.
Any theory advanced must explain all the observed phe-

Now, it is quite certain, it seems to me, that any material-
istic theory cannot explain many of the facts of psychic re-
search. Let us omit telepathy as possibly explicable on the
materialistic scheme. Clairvoyance, premonitions, appari-
tions of the dead, haunted houses, to say nothing of the case
of Mrs. Piper — none of these facts are really explicable on
any materialistic theory. The method in the past, there-
fore, has been to ignore them. But this cannot be done
much longer ! So much evidence is constantly pouring in —
evidence so well attested, of such an extraordinary nature —
that it will not be many years before at least some of these

Eusapia Palladino 291

phenomena are accepted by orthodox science. And then
what will become of materialism?

Enough has been said, at any rate, to show us that

materialism no longer has the same firm foothold as it had

some years ago. Then no one thought of questioning it if

he wished to be thought "scientific"; now everyone does!

j The Piper case, and others of a similar nature, and the

Whole mass of psychical phenomena, seem to indicate that

I there are, operative in nature, forces and intelligences be-

(yond those known to or recognized by orthodox science.

And however far we may stretch explanatory hypotheses,

we are at all events in the realm of the "supernormal," and

hence beyond materialism. Spiritism is the only rational

explanation for certain cases, and it sj^nthesizes the whole

of psychical research in a way that no other hypothesis can.

Once accepted, it explains all the phenomena in a very

simple and satisfactory manner.

When we come to view the facts in the Palladino case,
then, we find that they form or are divisible into two general
groups. Broadly, they may be divided as follows: (i)
Those phenomena in which there is some mechanical move-
ment, devoid of external intelligence; and (2) those phe-
nomena in which there is (apparently at least) an external
intelligence. In the first of these two groups I should place
movements of objects without contact, levitations, raps not
showing intelligence, musical sounds ditto, the blowing out
of the curtains of the cabinet, etc. In the second class I
should have to place raps and musical sounds showing in-
telligence, impressions in putty of hands, faces, etc., mate-
rializations, conversations, intelligent handling of the record-
ing apparatus, and all kindred phenomena. Now, I must
insist that, while the theories that have been advanced to

292 Eusapla Palladino

date (and which were reviewed in the last chapter) might
explain the phenomena included in the first of these two
categories, they certainly cannot explain the second set of
facts. Intelligence cannot be displayed by a thing that has
none, and "forces" and even "fluidic elongations" have none!
We must postulate something at work, therefore, that has
intelligence, and, since this is not the medium, what can it
be but some external intelligence — some entity with a mind
and thoughts of its own? And what can that be but a
spirit? To me any attempt to evade this main issue is
merely quibbling.

Whether we can conceive any such thing as a spirit or
not is beside the case; the question is. Do the facts prove it?
To me they certainly do prove it in at least some of the
cases — an example of which I gave earlier in this discussion.
Any attempt to explain such a case as that by any theory of
"forces" or in any other way than to admit the presence of
the spiritual intelh'gence who purported to be present is, to
me, absurd. I should much rather prefer to hold that Dr.
Venzano falsified the facts, or that the whole seance was
due to fraud, than advance any theory other than the spirit-
istic, in a case of this character. Any other theory would
be a straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel, indeed!

Having defined my position, then, in broad outline, I
must now proceed to fill in the details. I shall be told that
this is no new theory, but that it has always been held by
a large number of observers and defended by them. Further,
there are many difficulties within the problem ; and again,
there are numerous facts which seem to indicate that some
force, under the control of the medium's oiun brain and
mind, is in operation and not that of any spirit. (This
would seem to negate this hypothesis, therefore.) I am

Eusapia Palladino 293

aware of all these objections, and shall endeavor to answer
them as we proceed.

I must begin by making certain assumptions — assumptions
which should find no difficulty in being accepted in the main,
and which at all events cannot be argued here. These are:
( I ) That consciousness persists after the dissolution of the
organism; (2) that this consciousness maintains its personal
identity — including, of course, memory; (3) that this con-
sciousness ("soul") is or inhabits a body of the same shape
as our physical body — at least at first; (4) that it is con-
stantly about us — in our surroundings — capable of exercising
certain functions to us deemed supernormal, such as telep-
athy, clairvoj'ance, etc.; (5) that it is normally invisible to us,
but may become visible under certain conditions, as yet un-
known, to one or more individuals, and can then more or
less directly communicate with them; (6) that such an
intelligence can only act on the material world through
some intermediary and not directly — either upon a nervous
mechanism (probably indirectly) or upon inert matter
(almost certainly indirectly) through some semifluidic in-
termediary. Only by means of this etheric or vital inter-
mediary is mind enabled to act upon matter and the material

None of this is new — except, perhaps, the last proposition.
If such a thing as "spirit" exists at all, I think there should
be but little difficulty in granting the first five of these
assumptions. The sixth is the one that I now wish to
elaborate and defend at some length.

First of all, let us go back to the world-old problem of
the connection of mind and body. There are certain aspects
of this question that seem to have been overlooked even by
those psychologists and philosophers who have written about

294 Eusapia Palladino

it at length, and as this question has a more or less direct
bearing on the problem before us, as we shall presently see,
it may be well to point these out in this place.

The ordinary materialistic conception is, of course, the
"production" theory. Mind is thought to be the direct
consequence of the brain's functioning, and is the result of
it. But if this narrow conception be given up, as it now is,
by a large number of even "orthodox" psychologists, and as
it certainly must be if even one supernormal fact ever be
proven, then it becomes necessary to postulate some other
connection, and both parallelism and interactionism prac-
tically admit the existence of consciousness apart from brain
structure. The refusal to consider the matter in this light
is a mere piece of dogmatism; and anyone has just as good
a right to affirm that mind does exist apart from brain
activity as another man has to assert that it does not. The
skeptic's only ground of vantage is the fact that conscious-
ness has never been proved to exist, independent of such
activity, which would seem to indicate, at least upon a super-
ficial view of the facts, that it was the result of it. But if
we do have evidence of its independent existence — in such
phenomena as those of Mrs. Piper, for example — then it is
at once and forever proved that consciousness does and can
exist apart from brain structure, and that it merely uses that
organ or instrument to function through — while here in the
body. That is, consciousness exists as a separate entity, but
only becomes manifest and objective to us here in the body
while utilizing some material brain. On this theory the
possible separate existence of consciousness is admitted, and
only the nature of its connection with the organism is the

Now, if mind exists apart from the brain and merely

Eusapia Palladino 295

utilizes it to manifest through, it is acting upon it by a
species of telekinesis all the time! Every mental state and
change — accompanied, as it doubtless is, by molecular action,
chemical changes, etc. — is the result of a telekinetic action!
There should be no very great difficulty in imagining con-
sciousness capable of affecting the outside material world,
therefore. Further, for all we know, the mind may be a
thousand miles away from the brain it is acting upon and
merely be in rapport with it by means of some sort of mag-
netic attraction! If anyone asked me if I believed such a
theory I should say, "No, I do not"; but at the same time
there is really nothing against it. Once grant the possible
existence of consciousness apart from brain activity, and we
can conceive this quite easily.

It may be objected to the above that, whereas mind can
conceivably act on organic matter, and particularly nervous
tissue, it cannot, so far as we know, act upon the inorganic
world in a similar manner. That is probably very true;
there is some sort of vital connection in the one case which
there is not in the other, and upon that fact hinges the
ability of the mind to influence organic and not inorganic
matter. It is more than probable, it seems to me, that there
exists some sort of etheric medium between mind and even
organic nervous tissue, upon which the mind must act first
of all. Thus we should have the chain of connection : mind,
vital or etheric medium, nervous tissue, muscle, bone. So
mind acts upon matter, and it will be seen that there is an
increasing density of structure, and that just in proportion
to this density is mind incapable of affecting matter directly.
We must, it seems to me, always postulate some sort of
etheric medium through which mind acts in order to affect
and move matter — organic or inorganic. And without this

296 Eusapia Palladino

vital intermediary there can be no action and consequentl}'
no manifestation.

Now, on the ordinary materiah'stic view, human vitality is
conceived to be a mere product of chemical combustion.
The potential energy of the food we eat is, according to
modern science, transformed into actual or kinetic energy
in the body — when food is oxidized within it. In this way
is the energy of the body maintained, and vitality is thus
conceived to be one of the forces of nature and transformable
and transmutable into them. Heat, light, chemical affinity,
electricity, vitality, etc., are all conceived to be forces on the
same plane, and all transmutable one into the other. And
one Is no more mysterious than the other — vitality no more
so than chemical affinity!

Now, in my book Vitality, Fasting, and Nutrition, I
argued this point at great length, and brought forward
many facts and arguments in an attempt to show that vitality
is not a simple material force like the others — but is some-
thing distinct, separate, per se — and unlike any other force
whatever. I cannot repeat in this place any of the arguments
there brought forward in defense of this view, but shall as-
sume its correctness for the sake of argument, as it will
! enable us to understand these facts much more fully than will
any other hypothesis.^ I shall proceed upon the theory that
vitality is a living force, non-material, that guides the body
j during its life here on earth. It forms the connecting link
) between mind and matter, and is, quite possibly, the vehicle

^Although my theory has been before the world for almost two years, no
one has come forward to challenge the correctness of it. Almost every
reviewer, without exception, has stated his disbelief in the theory, but has failed
to advance a single fact tending to disprove it; no one has undertaken to refute
it in detail. Both Dr. Rabagliati and myself expected the idea to meet with
ridicule and rejection, at iirst, as all new ideas do; but the absence of contrary
facts is most extraordinary. I shall not do more than refer to it here.

Eusapia Palladino 297

of the soul — the etheric double, the astral body of the

Now, if we grant that this vitality Is a separate force,
capable of controlling the nervous mechanism under certain
conditions, and acting as an intermediary between it and
mind, it is evident that this vital force is more detachable
from the organism — more a thing, an entity — than we have
been in the habit of supposing. It might be transferable,
under certain conditions, from one organism to another,
and this would account for mesmeric phenomena and some
so-called miraculous cures. This same vitality, again, issuing
from the scar in the medium's forehead, would account for
the "cold air" so often felt by experimenters at the Palladino
seances (p. 205). This postulated vital energy would
explain a number of other facts, and is probably closely
allied to Gasparin's "fluid," to Thury's "psychode," and to
Sir William Crookes' "psychic force." None of the in-

^In the Journal of the S. P. R., February, 1908, pp. 180-6, is to be found
a summary of Sir Oliver Lodge's "scheme of personality" — a remarkably in-
genious theory, which should be published in full and certainly at as early a
date as possible. Sir Oliver Lodge represents the total self by two semicircles,
"abutting against one another, after the manner of a placenta." The upper
is the mental, the lower the physical, side of man. "Life" unites these two
pieces by means of the brain (p. 180). Nevertheless, Dr. Lodge evidently
thinks that "the brain" is not the only factor involved in this necessary con-
nection, for on page 183 he says: ''^Vitality unites the two halves and pierces
the boundary. . . ." This is a clear statement of a belief that vitality is that
which unites mind and matter — as I have been contending all along. But if
vitality were nothing more mysterious than chemical affinity, e.g., and no nearer
the fountain of life, why should not that form the connecting link — just as well
as vitality.'' Why should not heat, or light, or any other force, for that matter.''
In the sentence quoted above there is at least a tacit assumption that vitality h
something more than mere mechanical force; and further, that it unites mind
and matter! I think this is a position that will one day come to be generally
accepted; and it will be seen that this really places vitality outside the law of
conservation (as I have so strongly contended it should be placed), and acknowl-
edges that it is a force with quite individual peculiarities of its own — a force
"absolutely per se."

298 Eusapia Palladino

vestigators, however, applied his theory to the most remark-
able of all the phenomena — those implying an external
intelligence (materializations, e.g.) — and apparently it could
not be stretched so as to cover them. The theory I am
about to advance, while closely akin to some of these hypoth-
eses, also differs from them in some important particulars,
and is capable of explaining all the facts in a satisfactory
manner. I shall now endeavor to state this view as briefly
as possible.

The nervous or vital energy, for whose existence I have
been so strenuously arguing, is normally limited to the
periphery of the body, and never extends beyond it. But
under certain conditions, of which we know nothing at
present, it is possible for this force to extend beyond the
limits of the body, and produce certain material movements
and displacements of objects in the external world. This
force would be, supposedly, at such times under the sub-
conscious control of the medium, and might even pass
slightly under the control of her voluntary mind, and be
directed by her — just as the muscles of respiration are usually
under the control of the subconscious mind, but we can
also bring them under the control of the conscious mind at
will. The sphincter muscles would be a still better example
of this — muscles over which we have normally even less
control, but which we yet can control, at least in part, by
an effort of will. So, then, this force, being more or less
directly controlled by the mind of the medium (conscious
and subconscious) and acting beyond the periphery of the
body, would be enabled to produce all the effects 0/ class one
of the phenomena previously enumerated. The vital en-
ergy would form the intermediary or connecting link be-
tween the mind of the medium and the production of the

Eusapia Palladino 299

movement — and would cause the phenomenon in that man-
ner. All of the phenomena apparently devoid of intel-
ligence, or those under the control of the medium, could be
explained by this h3'pothesis, which indeed presents nothing
distinctly new so far. It is closely akin to several others
that have been advanced.

But now we come to the second group of facts — those
produced and controlled, apparently, by some external in-
telligence. How are these usually accounted for? Usually,
it must be admitted, they are not accounted for at all — or
so incompletely as to leave the mind totally unsatisfied with
the explanations. I have pointed out the defects of these
theories before and it is unnecessary to repeat the arguments
here. They simply do not explain. They explain the facts
of group one, but not those of group two. If any of these
phenomena are such In reality (and it seems very clear to
me that they are), the spiritistic hypothesis is the only ra-
tional one to account for the facts; Is the only one worthy
of serious consideration. When hands, faces, and forms
appear, when conversations are carried on with these forms,
in a language unknown to the medium, about matters private
and unknown to her, it seems preposterous to attempt to
explain these facts in any other way than to admit that a
spiritual entity Is present and active there. The spiritistic
hypothesis is the only one that In any way explains the facts,
and I shall accordingly adopt It, until some better explana-
tion be forthcoming.

Granting, then, that a spiritual Intelligence is active, how
are we to conceive that It produces these effects? "Spirit"
being supposedly pure mind, or closely related to it, it can-
not act Hpon the material world directly, or efifect changes
in it. In order for this to take place there must be some

300 Eusapia Palladino

Intermediary, as I have before insisted upon ; but I now
think we are in a position to see in what this intermediary
consists. It is the nervous, vital force of the medium, ex-
ternalized by her beyond her body and utilized by the mani-
festing spirit for the purposes of its manifestation. This
same vital energy, which is controlled by the medium's own
mentality, when producing the phenomena of class one, is
utilized by the manifesting intelligence in very much the
same manner (when the medium is in trance) in producing
the manifestations and phenomena of class tzvo. We might
conceive that this vital energy is utilized by the manifesting
intelligence, who imbibes and clothes himself with it, as it
were — creating a sort of temporary fluidic body through
which it can manifest — can come in contact with the
material world, move material objects, be seen, felt, and
even photographed. Normally, such an intelligence would be
separated from our world by the veil of sense; but now a
link is supplied enabling the phantom to become more "ma-
terial" in a way, for the time being — sufficiently so, at least,
to cause the various manifestations we have recorded, and to
produce the materializations so frequently attested to in
Eusapia's seances. ' The vitality would act as a sort of sheath
or cloak, a semi-material substance through and by means
of which a spirit can manifest to us here, and initiate the
varied phenomena witnessed at Eusapia's seances.

Thus and thus only, it seems to me, can these phenomena

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 23 of 27)