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Eusapia Palladino and her phenomena online

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(whether it be the psychological effect upon Eusapia, or
whether added energy is really unconsciously liberated by
the sitters, because of their mental attitude, or whether the
words uttered are heard by "John," and have a stimulating
effect upon him ) I do not know. But it is certain that this
insistent clamoring for phenomena will generally result in
their production.

Foreign objects unknown to, and previously untouched by,
the medium do not seem to be so likely to be operated upon
as more familiar objects. I myself at first tried to get things
out of my pocket moved, but unsuccessfully. Later I chose
things belonging to or connected with Eusapia — taking them,
however, secretly and arranging them as I pleased before-
hand. These were successfully moved in almost every case,
provided they were inside the room. It may be well for in-
tending experimenters to remember that when they seal things
up or otherwise place them for experiment, it is preferable
to choose something previously handled by the medium, and

314 Eusapla Palladino

not some foreign object, without interest for her or in as-
sociation with her. The probability that the latter objects
are best may sound suspicious, as so many other things may
sound, but, so far as I can see, the suspicious nature of the fact
is only apparent; such objects will serve the purpose as well
as any other if properly arranged, and cannot be held re-
sponsible for the human character of the manifestation; nor
can it be considered altogether unreasonable.

How can we conceive such objects to be moved? Is there
a veritable actio ad distans? Or is some energy projected
from the periphery of the medium's body, and propagated
by means of waves, through the air, or through the ether?
Is it human vitality that is thus externalized, or is it some
other force, wholly unknown? We cannot say. Certain it
is that no instrument has as yet succeeded in measuring this
force, which seems only to affect the object it strikes. Sir
Oliver Lodge, commenting on these phenomena, in the
Journal of the S. P. R., November, 1894, says:

"Physical movements imply a source of energy, and it may
be assumed that the energy is drawn from those present —
principally, I suppose, almost entirely, from the medium,
who was sometimes completely exhausted — although she was
usually quite restored by a night's rest. I shall leave others
to report on the dynamometer readings, which, as already
incidentally mentioned, were taken before and after each
seance, in order to ascertain, if possible, the source of the
energy; nothing has yet been clearly proved by them so far
as I know, but if once the movements are admitted, it will
be conceded that animal vitality is the most natural, indeed
the only likely, source of the energy employed. ... I do not
regard the attempt at detection of the seat of the reaction as
affecting the evidence for the reality of the movements, but
as conveying informations as to the laws of the unknown
force. I anticipate, but quite gratuitously, that the reaction

Eusapia Palladino 315

will be found on the person of the medium, so that when
she is supporting a table she will be found heavier by the
weight of the table/ but it by no means necessarily follows
that it is so ; it is conceivable that the reaction will be diffused
through the room. A reaction may be taken up and diffused
by air molecules — as, for instance, in the case of a lamb be-
ing carried off by an eagle ; it would not in that case be easy
to demonstrate the still existing weight of the lamb. It is
a matter for experiment to determine where the reaction is ;
and if no adequate reaction can be found, the phenomenon
will have to be likened more nearly to the action of a flying
animal than to that of an animal resting on the ground." ^

During a sitting, and for the production of phenomena,
a large amount of Eusapia's energj^ is sapped, and, other
things being equal, the better the seance, and the more re-
markable the phenomena, the greater is this depletion of vital
forces. After a seance, Eusapia is indeed a pitiable object.
She appears shrunken together, weak, nauseated, with loss
of memory of much that has transpired, her face deeply lined
and sallow — giddiness, and general uncertainty as to her sur-
roundings — these are all symptoms which are observed at the
conclusion of the seance, when even graver symptoms, such
as hysteria, partial paralysis, etc., do not supervene.

This vitality, which seems to be used in the production of
the phenomena, while it is drawn mostly from the medium,
is certainly drawn in large part from the circle also. All
of us noticed this more or less, and slept to an unusually late
hour the following morning. Further, in my own case es-
pecially — perhaps because of my continued bodily contact

^This supposition has now been proved correct. The Psychological Insti-
tute of Paris found this to be the case.

^ For a further discussion of these difficult questions, see Count dc Couden-
hove's article, "Concerning Physical Phenomena in Mediumship," in the July-
September (1909) Annals (pp. 467-483).

3i6 Eusapia Palladino

with the medium — I noticed after about six seances a pain
in the base of the brain, and a general feeling of exhaustion,
which many others have experienced at the beginning of an
invasion by external intelligences, and in cases of so-called
"obsession." I did not notice this during the seance itself,
but generally afterwards, and particularly the following
morning. It is interesting to note in this connection that
Mrs. Piper's trances, when the sittings have been very success-
ful, draw vitality in a similar manner from the sitters. Dr.
Hodgson especially noticed this, and one of his chief reasons
for keeping so perpetually in perfect physical training was
to build up and offset the vital drain which the sittings con-
stituted during the first two or three days of every week.

Eusapia stated on one occasion that the phenomena were
produced in proportion to the density of the will of the me-
dium — by the force of the will of the medium. She stated
that the combined will of the sitters helped to secure results.
Sometimes phenomena obey the strongest will in the circle —
as was demonstrated at a seance held on June ii, 1905.
Exercise of the will of the medium will induce phenomena;
and corresponding to this exercise of will power, contractions
of her muscles, either of the arm, the leg, or even of the neck,
take place. Music was not found to be beneficial; rather the

On another occasion Eusapia said that there were two
kinds of fluidic currents: one proceeding from the cabinet,
and the other proceeding from the chain of sitters. The one
coming from the cabinet was, so to say, fed by that coming
from the chain. In her Paris experiments she defined dif-
ferently the character of the fluids coming from the different
controllers. That of M. Yourievitch was jerky or spas-
modic; that of M. Courtier was strong and tranquil; that

Eusapia Palladino 317

of M. d'Arsonval was gentle and favorable. She also named
the various sensations which she experienced, and which,
she said, came from the hands of various persons. The
moral characters of her controllers also plays a very impor-
tant part in the production of phenomena — according to

Dr. Ochorowicz, in discussing another case under ob-
servation by him at the time (that of Mile. Tomczyk), gives
a theoretical explanation of the manner in which objects are
transported from place to place, levitated, etc. This ex-
planation was made to him by ''John King," and is to the
following effect:

"After having explained the duplication of the medium's
hands in the fluidic attouchments, John, that is to say Eusa-
pia, in complete trance, gave me still further explanations
as to the transport of slates. With a view of obtaining some
sign by writing, we had prepared two slates, tied together
and placed in the center of the table.

"When John was explaining to me that it was easier for
him to materialize the tips of the fingers and the nails than
any other part of the arm, I felt something hard tapping
lightly on my head.

" 'Those are the slates,' said John.

"In answer to my question as to how he was able to hold
them in the air, he gave me all his theory, which I will try
to reproduce as faithfully as possible:

"The hands of all present, and principally the medium's,
release an emanation which John simply called 'fluid.' This
fluid forms bundles of straight rays, which are like stretched
threads and support the slates. When these threads or rays
are sufficiently strong, the object may perhaps be raised above
the heads, because then the rays converge on to a surface or
a point of the object, becoming, so to speak, rigid, and the
object rests on them as on shafts. But their power depends
on certain conditions, and, above all, on the harmony es-

3i8 Eusapia Palladino

tabllshed between the various fluids. By suddenly changing
the conditions, for example, by breaking the chain of hands,
you cut the current and the power from the fluidic rays
is dispersed.

"In order to verify this assertion of John's, I suddenly
withdrew my hands from my neighbor on my left, and im-
mediately the slates fell onto the table.

" 'That is true,' I said to John, 'but do you know that I
had an impression that the slates had fallen from the me-
dium's head?'

" 'I shall prove to you by and by that you made a mistake.'

"We reformed the chain, as he directed, and a few minutes
afterwards the slates were again in the air, above our heads.
'And now lift up your hand,' said John. We raised our
hands, Eusapia and I, as high as it was possible without let-
ting go of each other's hands, and the slates manifested their
presence at that height several times by touching our hands.

"It was evident:

"i. That the slates were much higher than the medium's

"2. That the raising of both our hands, without breaking
the chain, did not in any way interfere with the mechanical
action of John's rays."

It was ascertained by us that, in the trance state, a greater
or lesser degree of amnesia was present. We ascertained,
moreover — which the Paris investigators did not — that, the
more important the phenomena, other things being equal, the
greater the degree of amnesia.

Excessive hyperaesthesia was ascertained by the Paris inves-
tigators to be present in the hands, head and feet. Eusapia
prefers to hold the hands of her controllers, rather than be
held by them. These hype raesthe tic spots appear in zones or
patches — a common phenomenon in hysterical cases. This
hyperaesthetic condition is particularly marked on her shoul-
der blades.

Eusapia Palladino 319

Further, notes were taken of the respiration, circulation,
blood pressure, and pulse rate — before and after the seance.
Experiments were conducted with the galvanometer. An
analysis of the urine was also made.

A number of experiments were conducted, seeming to show
that objects placed in the immediate neighborhood of Eusa-
pia varied in weight. Eusapia also succeeded in discharging
an electroscope without contact.^

It is a very interesting fact, and one telling strongly in
favor of the genuine character of the phenomena, it seems
to me, that just before their production, and especially at
the commencement of the seance, Eusapia shows certain
physiological peculiarities. Thus, we frequently noticed that
the medium hiccoughed violently whenever she went into a
trance (or whenever she did not pass into trance, if phe-
nomena were following), but this soon left her. She also
sighs, groans, and seems to be extremely uncomfortable, until
the phenomena are well under way; and especially during
the production of ^ny larger phenomena she cries, "Oh, dear!
Oh, dear!" and groans repeatedly. When she passes into
trance, however, this sufiFering is lost, and partial or com-
plete amnesia and anaesthesia take the place of the former
hyperesthesia, and acutely alert consciousness. The lesser

' This phenomenon has been recorded several times by other observers.
Thus, in the August-September Annals, 1908, is an article by Dr. Imoda, en-
titled "The Action of Eusapia Palladino on the Electroscope." He observed
this phenomenon repeatedly. He observed, also, that the instrument was not
discharged immediately, as would be the case were a radium salt introduced,
but "in the case of Eusapia the discharge did not take place until after several
minutes, as though the body of the medium, previously passive, suddenly pro-
jected a jet of these radiations. That is to say, the emission of the mediumistic
rays appeared not to be continuous, but by shocks, as, perhaps, in the case with
the electrical discharge of the gymnotus and torpedo. . . . The mediumistic
rays are able of themselves to become a conductor of electricity, and that, in
consequence, the radiations of radium, the cathodic radiations of the Crookei
tube, and mediumistic radiations, are fundamentally the same."

320 Eusapia Palladino

phenomena are, apparently, nearly always remembered — the
more remarkable ones are forgotten.

One fact of interest and significance should be noticed
here. During the greater portion of our early sittings the
medium suffered from paroxysms of violent coughing, which
came on as the seance opened. She had suffered from them
more or less all day. But we invariably noticed that, as
soon as the phenomena actually commenced, this cough com-
pletely disappeared and did not again manifest itself until
the conclusion of the seance, when the coughing was re-
sumed. It was as though the energy normally used in the
emotive process of coughing had, during the seance, become
diverted into the production of the phenomena. One incident
known to me seems to verify this supposition. My father
used to be a great sufferer from neuralgia — the pain extend-
ing up the cheek and including the teeth and ear. On one
occasion he was suffering from a bad cold in the head and
was continually "snuffing" and blowing his nose, and had
been for some days past. On this occasion severe neuralgia
set in on the evening of the second day and lasted all night.
It disappeared in the morning, whereupon my father dis-
covered for the first time that his cold had been entirely sus-
pended during the entire night (he had not once desired to
use his handkerchief) and did not return until the neuralgia
had in turn left him !

In this case it would appear that the vital energies of the
body were so fully occupied by the pain of the neuralgia at-
tack that they were monopolized by that, and were unable
to "pay any attention" to the cold and its resultant phenome-
na. They were diverted and directed into other channels,
as it were.

Similarly, it seems to me, are the energies of Eusapia di-

Eusapia Palladino 321

rected during a seance into the production of phenomena,
and such minor manifestations as are represented by a cold
and cough are allowed to "stand over" until the termina-
tion of the seance, when they are again allowed free play.
In any case, it seems to me, the fact tells in favor of the
genuine character of the observed phenomena.

There is one point I wish to emphasize just here, and that
is that it is impossible to form a just estimate of Eusapia's
sittings, and of the phenomena that occur thereat, until a
large number of sittings has been obtained. Investigators
frequently obtain two or three seances, or even one, and form
definite opinions, one way or the other, as to the phenomena
from that one sitting. It is quite impossible to do this with
any fairness either to the medium or to her phenomena. It
must be remembered that Eusapia is, in such cases, giving a
first sitting — or, if given to different investigators, a series
of first sittings, and it has been ascertained by direct ex-
periment that Mrs. Piper's first sittings are almost invariably
poor, and that the character of the evidence improves both
as to quality and quantity the longer the sittings are con-
tinued. Thus, the second sitting would be much better than
the first, the third better than the second, and so on. It is
the same with Eusapia. We noticed this especially in our
sittings. The first (although good, and in it the phenomena
were produced chiefly in the light) was limited to the produc-
tion of three types of phenomena — viz. : table levitations, raps,
and the blowing out of the cabinet curtains without apparent
cause. At our second seance these same phenomena were
repeated, but several others were added: movements of ob-
jects without contact, playing upon musical instruments, etc.
Every seance thenceforth added some fresh phenomenon.
Lights, touches by invisible hands, appearance of visible

322 Eusapia Palladino

hands, appearance of heads, carrying about of objects, levlta-
tions of a small stool outside the cabinet, touches by visible
hands — these were all added to our stock of phenomena as
the seances progressed. On the whole, we were, therefore,
much more impressed at the conclusion of the tenth seance
than we were at the conclusion of the second or third.

During the third seance, as I have said, we had detected
fraud. The first two sittings had both been held in good
light, and under excellent test conditions, and at the con-
clusion of the second sitting it is safe to say that we were
quite convinced of the reality of her phenomena. Our men-
tal state at the close of the third sitting would be difficult
to analyze. We had naturally reverted to a skeptical atti-
tude, and yet the first two sittings impressed us almost as
much as ever, and we were as totally unable as ever to ac-
count for many of the phenomena we had observed. I
cannot conceive a more exasperating state of affairs than to
have two or three sittings, and be left in mid-air, so to speak,
as to their interpretation. In spite of our utter inability to
account for the phenom.ena of the first two seances, we never-
theless should have felt ourselves quite unable to formulate
any definite opinion either for or against, had we ter-
minated our series at this seance. It was only after we had
obtained several more sittings, and phenomena had been ob-
served under what we conceived to be absolutely test condi-
tions, that we were reconverted to a belief in her phenomena
■ — a final, irrevocable belief. Whatever fraud we had dis-
covered, whatever fraud might be discovered in the future,
we felt and still feel that we had observed genuine phenome-
na, which could not be explained by any methods of trickery
or deceit.

I have before referred to the manner in which the facts

Eusapia Palladino 323

rolled off our minds, and failed to find lodgment and force
belief. Seance after seance, we remained doubtful, until the
sixth, when we felt that we had become finally and irre-
vocably convinced. The facts had at last found lodgment in
our minds, and we felt that our observations had not been
mistaken. Having once been convinced that genuine phe-
nomena did occur, we determined, after the eighth seance,
to relax our precautions somewhat, and give Eusapia freer
play, so to speak. Accordingly, we allowed the medium to
conduct herself largely as she chose, relaxing our precautions
purposely in order to see the result. One might suppose,
a priori, that better phenomena occurred in consequence of
this. Such, however, was not the case. Eusapia immediately
tried to trick us, and we again detected for the first time
since the third seance, attempted substitution of hands! We
accordingly insisted upon rigidity of control, and when this
had been established, and all possibility of trickery eliminated,
we again obtained excellent phenomena, under the best of

As the result of our seances, we came to this conclusion :
That when the force is strong, phenomena take place no mat-
ter what conditions are imposed to prevent them — in fact, the
more stringent the conditions, the more securely Eusapia is
held, the better are the results obtained. We also found that
the greater the contact between Eusapia's body and ours, the
more forceful the phenomena, and the sooner do they set
in. This agrees with Morselli's observation. He also noted
this fact. On the contrary, if the force is weak, stringent
control seems to offset phenomena — because it produces an
adverse psychological condition in Eusapia, It makes her irri-
table and suspicious, and phenomena do not occur in conse-
quence. If they fail to appear, she endeavors to stimulate

324 Eusapia Palladino

their production by lowering the lights, until almost com-
plete darkness results, by greater freedom of her hands and
feet, and then, finally, if the phenomena fail to appear, by
a resort to fraud.

This again was illustrated in our own sittings. In the
first two the power seemed to be strong, and Eusapia willing-
ly submitted to any test conditions — good phenomena re-
sulting notwithstanding. On the contrary, at the third
seance, when she felt depressed and weary, phenomena failed
to appear for more than an hour, and then only in almost
complete darkness. Finally, Eusapia attempted fraud.
Again, at the eighth seance the power appeared to be some-
what weak, and nearly two hours elapsed before any im-
portant phenomena occurred. We had asked Eusapia at this
sitting if we might tie her hands and feet with rope (as we
had on several previous occasions). She became exceedingly
angry and refused to permit any tests of this character. In
spite of the fact that her hands and feet were free, however,
phenomena failed to appear, as we have seen. Yet, during
our ninth sitting, Eusapia not only allowed us to tie her
with rope, but even suggested it herself, and, in spite of this
elaborate tying, and the most rigorous control, the phenomena
commenced almost immediately, and were the most forceful
and convincing we had seen throughout the whole series.

It will be seen, therefore, that the production of good
phenomena depends, not upon the rigor of the control, but
upon the mental and physical wellbeing of the medium. If
she is depressed, down-spirited, or fatigued, a poor seance in-
variably results. Since the phenomena appear to depend
largely upon the amount of reserve energy she possesses, this
is only what we should expect, but it is interesting to note
that the success of the seance seems to depend even more upon

Eusapla Palladino 325

her mental condition than upon her bodily health. If she is
happy, high-spirited, elated in mind, remarkable manifesta-
tions occur, no matter what the precautions taken.

On several occasions the medium had had some domestic
trouble before leaving home and arrived in a very irritable
frame of mind. This seemed to offset the production of the
phenomena far more than her physical health. The degree
of the rigidity of the control seemed insignificant compared
with it.

All the investigators of Eusapia have discovered this fact,
and have found it excellent policy to stimulate the production
of phenomena by entertaining her in various waj^s. Dinners,
theater parties, carriage drives, etc., flattering Eusapia, and
in general inducing in her a buo};ant, happy frame of mind,
w^ill do more to insure a good seance than any other method
that has so far been devised. We tried the effect of these
various diversions, and usually found that our expectations
•were fully realized, and that an excellent seance resulted.

We did not find, however — contrary to general opinion,
and contrary even to the belief of Eusapia herself — that an
increase in the number of the circle affected the results bene-
ficially — rather the reverse. Thus, we obtained excellent
phenomena during our first three seances, when Mr. Feild-
ing and I alone were present, controlling the medium, and
under the most rigorous test conditions. At the fourth
seance, at her request, we invited no less than five additional
investigators, three of them personal friends of Eusapia, to
join our circle. Eusapia had stated to us that the "current"
of one or two of these gentlemen was particularly favorable
and would be sure to induce good results. Nevertheless, the
phenomena were weak and altogether unsatisfactory, and
it was only after the departure of all the sitters, with the

326 Eusapia Palladino

exception of Professor Galeotti and ourselves, that we ob-
tained phenomena that could in any way compare with those
of the first seances. Again, at our eighth seance, four addi-
tional sitters were present — besides one additional investigator

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Online LibraryHereward CarringtonEusapia Palladino and her phenomena → online text (page 25 of 27)