The 13th Witness for Life After Death: Dr. Gustave Geley
Posted on 11 September 2023, 7:10
A French physician and Laureate of the French Medical Faculty at the University of Lyons, Dr. Gustave Geley (1868 – 1924, upper right photo) gave up his medical practice in 1918 to become the first director of the Institut Métapsychique International in Paris. He is most remembered for his research in the area of physical mediumship, especially with the mediums Marthe Béraud (“Eva C.”), Stephan Ossowiecki, Jean Guzik, and Franek Kluski (lower right photo). Many of Geley’s experiments were carried out in hi Paris laboratory with the help of Professor Charles Richet, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1913.
In my award-winning paper for the Bigelow Essay contest of 2021, I offered the testimony of 11 researchers – a judge, a physician, a lawyer, three chemists, a biologist, two physicist, a theologian, and a philosopher, all with impeccable qualifications – in support of the survival hypothesis. All of them began as non-believers or skeptics to some high degree, but, after extensive research declared themselves as supporting communication with spirits of the dead and survival of consciousness at death. Because of the 25,000 word limit for the essay, I had to stop at 11 – all of them having accomplished most of their research before 1900. Had I been able to go on, Professor James Hyslop would have been my 12th witness. He was the subject of my blog of December 6, 2021. With even more space permitted, Dr. Geley would have been my 13th witness.
As with the previous 12 witnesses, my “interview” with Geley involves his exact words as set forth in various books, journals, and reports. My questions are tailored to fit his answers. Words in brackets are inferred to provide a proper flow of verbiage. References are provided at the end.
Dr. Geley, your reports are filled with experiments resulting in materializations of hands, faces, and other body parts developing from a substance called ectoplasm given off by the medium. Would you mind summarizing the process?
“[Certainly.] The primary substance may be solid, liquid, or vaporous. With Eva, the solid type predominates, with most other mediums, the vaporous. The is the case with Franek [Kluski]; the ectoplasm appears as gaseous, and only exceptionally as solid. The usual course of the phenomena is as follows: First a strong odour of ozone is perceptible. This odour, analogous to that perceived in radioscopic practice, is very characteristic, and is perceptible at the beginning of the phenomena and sometimes in advance of any, often on entering the laboratory, and sometimes even before that. This premonitory symptom has never been absent in our experiments. The smell of ozone comes and goes suddenly. Then, in weak light, slightly phosphorescent vapour floats around the medium, especially above his head, like light smoke, and in it there are gleams like foci of condensation. These lights were usually many, tenuous, and ephemeral, but sometimes they were larger and more lasting, and then gave the impression of being luminous parts of organs otherwise invisible, especially finger-ends or parts of faces. When materialization was complete, fully formed hands and faces could be seen…These sometimes disappear at once, sometimes they proceed to characteristic human forms. They were predominant facts in Franek’s sittings; never entirely absent…[The] faces were alive; they looked keenly and fixedly at the experimenters. Their looks were grave, calm, and dignified. They seemed conscious of the importance of the matter.” (2-pgs .213, 252)
Has the ectoplasm been chemically analyzed?
“Analyses of the exteriorized substance are, of course, not to be had. The moral impossibility of amputating from the medium’s ectoplasm a portion which might grievously injury or kill her will always prevent this. We therefore are ignorant of the exact chemical composition of this substance…What we do know is that it shows biologic unity.” (1-pgs. 64-65)
I gather that complete forms are very rare.
“Different observers – Crookes and Richet among others – have, as is well known, described complete materializations, not of phantoms in the proper sense of the word, but of beings having for the moment all vital particulars of living beings; whose hearts beat, whose lungs breathe, and whose bodily appearance is perfect. I have not, alas, observed phenomena so complete, but, on the other hand, I have very frequently seen complete representations of an organ, such as a face, a hand, or a finger. In the more complete cases, the materialized organ has all the appearance and biological functions of a living organ. I have seen admirably modeled fingers, with their nails; I have seen complete hands with bones and joints; I have seen a living head, whose bones I could feel under a thick mass of hair. I have seen well-formed living and human faces!” (1-pgs. 56-57)
Do you know why some materializations are so complete and others so partial and imperfect?
“To build up in a few seconds an organ or an organism biologically complete – to create life – is a metapsychic feat which can but rarely produce a perfect result. That is why a great majority of materializations are incomplete, fragmentary, defective, and show lacunae in their structure. The forms are seldom other than more or less successful attempts at hands, faces, and organisms. (2- p. 240)
The skeptics constantly bring up those materializations that are not three dimensional as pointing to fraud.
“Well-constituted organic forms having all the appearance of life are often replaced by incomplete formations. The relief is often wanting and the forms are flat. There are some that are purely flat and partly in relief. I have seen in certain cases, a hand or a face appear flat, and then, under my eyes assume the three dimensions, entirely or partially. The incomplete forms are sometimes smaller than natural size, being occasionally miniatures….There are all kinds of intermediate stages between complete and incomplete organisms, and these changes often take place under the eyes of the spectator. Besides these complete and incomplete forms there are those of another kind – very strange ones.
These are imitations or simulacra of organs. There are simulacra of fingers having only the general shape of fingers, without warmth, without suppleness, and without joints. There are simulacra of faces like masks, or as if cut out of paper, tufts of hair sticking to them, and undefinable forms…These simulacra can easily be explained. They are the products of weak power using still weaker means of execution; it does what it can, and rarely succeeds, because its activity, diverted from its usual course, no longer has the certainty of action which normal biologic impulse gives to a physiological act.” (1-p. 60-61 & 2-pgs. 188-189)
Others have reported that these materializations just sort of melt into the floor in disappearing. It that your experience?
“The disappearance of materialized forms is at least as curious as their appearance. This disappearance is sometimes instantaneous, or nearly so. In less than a second the form whose presence was evident to sight and touch, has disappeared. In other cases the disappearance is gradual; the return to the original substance and its reabsorption into the body of the medium can be observed by the same stages as its production. In other cases again the disappearance takes place, not by a return to the original substance, but by progressive diminution of its particular characteristics, the visibility slowly lessens, the contours are blurred, effaced, and vanish.” (1-pgs. 62-63)
You are most remembered today for “The Paraffin Hands Case,” which is one of the most convincing cases of spirit life. As I recall, you and Professor Richet succeeded in having “entities” dip their hands into some paraffin wax so that molds could me made of their body parts. Would you mind explaining this?
“[My pleasure.] The procedure [with Franek Kluski] is to set a bowl containing paraffin wax, kept at melting-point by being floated on warm water near the medium. The materialized ‘entity’ is asked to plunge a hand, a foot, or even part of a face into the paraffin several times. A closely fitting envelop is thus formed, which sets at once in air or by being dipped into another of cold water. This envelope or ‘glove’ is then freed by dematerialization of the member. Plaster can be poured at leisure into the glove, thus giving a perfect cast of the hand.” (1- p. 221)
Was there an intelligence associated with the materializations and moulds?
“The lights, the touches, the apparitions of faces –all showed a directing intelligence which seemed conscious and autonomous. The mouldings showed obvious collaboration between the operating entities (whatever they may be) and ourselves. For instance, the mould of a foot was given at our request. Similarly it was on my demand that I afterwards received at Warsaw the moulds of a hand and forearm up to the elbow…The ‘entities’ did not seem to me to be of a high order of intelligence; they seem to me to have the mentality and capacity of artisans, no more.” (2-pgs. 258-259)
If the so-called “entities” were spirits of the dead, you’d think there would have been more mental phenomena.
“We made several attempts at automatic writing. Kluski is an excellent writer, but we gave up because we soon saw that the other phenomena suffered by it. When the medium failed to give all his strength to the phenomena, they were weakened or even did not appear at all….Toward the end of [one experiment] some manifestations showing mental intelligence took place [as] some very distinct communications were made by raps. One of these asked to sing. We sang the ‘Marseillaise’ softly, and this was applauded by hand-clapping in the dark cabinet, behind the medium.” (3-p. 685, 2- p.219-220)
But you experienced voices with Jean Guzik, right?
“[Yes.] The mouth of the ‘entity,’ visible by the lights on the lips, is seen to open, and words are heard, pronounced with difficulty. The voice differs greatly from a normal voice; it seems associated with a vibratory movement of the air on the lips, and produced by inhalation rather than exhalation. It is not like a laryngeal utterance. It is often not clear enough to be understood, but is sometimes quite distinct.” (2- p. 284)
I read that most of the experiments with Kluski were carried out in your laboratory behind locked doors after strip-searching the medium. Professor Richet has said that there was no possibility of fraud. Do you agree?
“All of us who participated in the experiments know full well that there has been no fraud, and that our confidence in the obvious honesty of Mr. Franek Kluski has never been abused. We know, too, that our close control did not permit of trickery, but we must act so that the reader may, if possible, be brought to some certitude…I do not merely say, ‘There was no trickery.’, I say, ‘There was no possibility of trickery.’” (2-p. 216, 1-pgs. 60-61)
Professor Richet leans toward some kind of subconscious explanation not yet known to science for all this phenomena. How do you see it?
“It should be beyond doubt that the Self both pre-exists, and that it survives the grouping which it directs during one earth-life; that it more particularly survives its lower objectification during this life. This may at least be admitted, if not as a mathematical certainty, at least as a high probability. If so, the manifestation of a ‘discarnate spirit’ on the material plane by the aid of dynamic and organic elements borrowed from the medium then appears an undeniable possibility. In face of a fact apparently of a spiritistic nature, one attitude only befits the instructed investigator – to take good sense as his guide. It is for good sense and sane judgment to appraise the statements of the communicator. [And] it is in the name of good sense that English and American investigators, weary of strife, and well aware of the disconcerting subtleties which have been advanced to explain the mental side of mediumship, have ended by accepting, with striking unanimity, the categorical and repeated affirmations of the communicators.” (1-p. 267)
So you are in agreement with those English and American investigators – Hodgson Hyslop, Myers, Lodge, Barrett and others —all of whom have favored the survival hypothesis?
“[Yes.] For my own part, if I may give a personal impression of what I have observed in the domain of mediumship, I should say that even if in a given case spiritist intervention could not be affirmed as a scientific certainty, one is obliged, willingly or unwillingly and on the aggregate of cases, to admit the possibility of such intervention. I think it probably that there is, in mediumship, an action of intelligent entities distinct from the medium. I base this opinion not only on the alleged proofs of identity given by the communicators, which may be matters of controversy, but on the high and complex phenomena of mediumship. These frequently show direction and intention which cannot, unless very arbitrarily, be referred to the medium or the experimenters. We do not find this direction and intelligence either in the normal consciousness of the medium, nor in his somnambulistic consciousness, nor in his impressions, his desires, or his fears, whether direct, indirect, suggested, or voluntary. We can neither produce the phenomena nor modify them. All happens as though the directing intelligence were independent and autonomous.” (1-pgs. 267-268)
References: #1 – From the Unconscious to the Conscious, by Gustave Geley, Harper & Brothers, 1920; #2 – Clairvoyance and Materialization: A Record of Experiments, by Gustave Geley, T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., 1927; #3 – Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, December 1923.
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.
Next blog post: Sept. 25
Here is an NDE from a Hawaiian man you might enjoy. AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 21 Sep, 15:51
In my last comment, I meant to suggest that you take note of the comments by Florence Marryat relative to Katie King. They are in my blog of December 7, 2020. I’m pretty sure Florence also reported seeing the materialization of Katie King sink into the floor.
Michael Tymn, Wed 20 Sep, 20:29
Thanks Bruce for the link to the copy of the signature of Houdini’s wife which is also shown in the following link on Victor Zammit’s site. An article on the Houdini Code taken from another Arthur Ford book ‘Nothing so strange’. The article is basically about Arthur Ford’s take on his thoughts about Houdini and of course the secret code and his part in it. https://victorzammit.com/articles/houdinicode.htm
Mark Harrison, Wed 20 Sep, 18:33
When I think of my brother, Dennis, who died in 1971 in an accident, I almost always picture his high school yearbook photo, which was later made into an 8 x 10 portrait and framed. If I were asked to telepathically send you a photo of him, I would likely attempt to send a duplicate of that photo; however, as my artistic abilities are very poor I doubt that it would look anything like him.
And if I were asked to telepathically send an image of myself, I’d probably send one of myself at age 30 or thereabout. Sometimes when I look in the mirror to shave, I remind myself that I am now an old man.
Besides the Doyle photo, Raymond Lodge’s ectoplasmic transmission received by Dr. T. Glen Hamilton looks very much like the photo of him in his military uniform. It is difficult to believe that Dr. Hamilton could have so easily been duped. The same goes for Sir William Crookes and the possibility that Florence’s sister was able to sneak into his house and then out of the house without being detected. Not once, but on several occasions.
While typing this, the paper shredder a few feet behind me automatically started grinding away. It has done this a few times before, but not for at least six months. it stopped after about five grinds.
I have the same question about cold reading that Bruce asked. It’s one thing to come up with a good guess at something based on the person’s expression and movement, quite another to come up specific information from that expression or movement.
michael tymn, Wed 20 Sep, 09:13
Bruce, to answer your question about whether the simulated trial involved in my Bigelow essay was civil or criminal, it was a civil trial. However, because the essay rules called for best proof beyond a reasonable doubt, I explained in the opening statement that the plaintiff agreed to the higher standard in exchange for the defendant permitting some testimony that would otherwise be objected to as irrelevant. It was further agreed that “overwhelming evidence” would be substituted for “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Michael Tymn, Wed 20 Sep, 08:50
Precisement, mon vieux. To get them to listen to the message, they need to stop. Grab them by .....
The less subtle the message the bigger the crowd.
The Purple Cow by Seth Goddin identifies remarkable products, people stop and remark about them. Seth’s TED 3 minute talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V82OwyF_vBg
explains Otaku - such as plaster casts of spirit hands.
I still can’t see how I can cold read the name of a deceased loved one unless they have a tee shirt with face and date of death of their loved one. When a girlfriend asked me in for a cup of coffee and I left after 10 minutes as she hadn’t made a move to get any cups out, this would indicate that I am bad at cold reading people.
A lot of mediums pad out the intro as little information is coming in. I used to preload information to avoid this lag in the proceedings. I could only preload three, then the flow of information stopped. The crowd was not happy. My granny is just as important as his granny - bring her through. You must be in league with the other people.
Bruce Williams, Wed 20 Sep, 07:51
Don and Amos,
I agree with everything you have said. However, if I were to cut out all the physical mediumship and all the current mental stuff under copyright, I wouldn’t have enough to keep a regular blog going—maybe one every two or three months at most. I’d lose momentum and once baseball season is over I’d have to find something else to watch or read. I might then turn to novels and become an escapist, or even a philistine. As I suggested in one of the earlier comments, I believe the evidence points to ectoplasm being the “life force” and the same as “soul mist” seen leaving the body at the time of death. If that possible link is not something to pursue, I don’t know what is. Certainly, science doesn’t seem to be interested. Resurrecting all the old research on ectoplasm might somehow spark a real scientist somewhere to give it more thought and further research this theory. I doubt it, but for some reason, every time I think about giving up on the blog, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or someone from his group soul speaking for him, comes through and tells me to continue as I have been.
Mark, thanks for the suggestion on writing about Arthur Ford. In rereading “Why We Survive” one of Ford’s books, over coffee this morning, I came upon a subject matter that lends itself to a future blog.
Michael Tymn, Tue 19 Sep, 23:46
You always ask the questions that make me think, Michael. I want to say at the onset that I think there is a difference between spirits that are ‘materialized’ and spirits that appear as apparitions. From the things I have read about materialized spirits, at least from whatever remaining evidence there may be, e.g., photographs and first-hand or second-hand reports; the ‘evidential’ pictures seem to be ‘hokey,’ that is, some of the spirits seem to be swaddled in bed sheets and some of the ‘ectoplasm’ in the pictures sometimes seems to have hems, tears in the ‘ectoplasm’ similar to tears in fabrics and obvious weaving of threads to make the material.
In other cases, the ectoplasm appears wispy or smoke-like which may be closer to what one’s expectation of what ectoplasm is supposed to look like. And as has been discussed here before, some or many of the faces of materialized spirits seem to be photographs or other drawings of sorts. I know it has been surmised here that spirits cannot remember what they looked like before there was photography or good mirrors, so that may be why the materializations look somewhat grotesque, as if they were drawn by a child.
If the persons were ever photographed when alive, then sometimes a well-known photograph appears in the ‘materialization’. e.g., Conan Doyle. These examples of ‘materializations’ easily lend themselves to suspicions of fraud or confabulation. Mirabelli’s dark materialization wore glasses; why would a consciousness need glasses, unless that was the expectation of what the person looked like—-with glasses! And in the case of Katie King, she was examined by another woman and determined to be anatomically complete. Why would that be necessary since no one in the séance room would be seeing Katie naked. Florence Cook and Katie King were reported to have been seen together suggesting that Florence Cook was not Katie King, but as I recall Florence Cook had a sister who lived with her and somewhat similar in appearance who could have easily played the role of Katie King while Florence remained remote. I think there are too many opportunities for deceit in these old reports of materializations.
Apparitions are another thing, however. People who see apparitions report that the apparition is dressed in a period costume, clothes in which they were buried or clothes which they normally wore. They are not swaddled in bed sheets. For me, that is a big difference. Apparitions appear without an intermediary medium and they appear and disappear instantaneously, they do not dissolve to the floor. And usually, they do not speak. They may be perceived at the hour of death or some other crisis and/or come to take a dying person home. They seem to have some reason for appearing, to provide comfort to the bereaved, unknown information or to escort someone who is dying, while the spirit materializations of bygone years just appear, without reason at the behest of a medium. Even mental mediums of today cannot contact just anybody at their whim! It is the spirit who has unfinished business who comes in with the sitter, often seen standing behind the sitter by the medium. It would be nice if there were some materialization mediums today.
Now, after all of that is said, I do think that there may be a couple of very good cases of materialization but I am not aware of anything recent I have to say, that I have no explanation how the Bangs sisters, (and the Campbell brothers) were able to produce their precipitated paintings. I used to paint oil portraits as well as other subjects and the quality of the paintings of the Bangs sisters is beyond explanation, in that they were often completed in minutes or occasionally an hour or so. I also think that the exposed films of the Scole Experiments provide believable materializations.
Forty years ago, I thought I saw a materialized spirit one dark night, all alone seated on a bench. He had a certain ‘cleanness’ about him as I recall and was dressed in light-colored very clean clothes, I think. I spoke to him and he was somewhat reticent but said he worked as a “Brother’ at a Catholic home for mentally disabled boys, a long-term care facility which I had previously inspected and although I met many of the Brothers there I did not recall ever meeting him. He brought up the subject of reincarnation without any prompting from me although it was a subject I had been thinking about that day and questioning. I don’t know what happened to him. After a brief conversation I just left him alone on the bench. I don’t know why I think this, other than this person had a strangeness about him, an other-worldliness! I still remember that encounter after all of these years. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 19 Sep, 21:34
Mark Harrison, Tue 19 Sep, 13:16
Thanks that’s most interesting about Ford and perhaps he’s worthy of a future Blog post if you can uncover more detail regarding his mediumship and maybe come to your own conclusions and understanding about him. I guess his biography ‘Arthur Ford the man who talked with the dead’ by Alan Spraggett or his autobiography ‘Nothing so strange’ by Margueritte Harmon Bro might offer some insight into the man himself. Apparently Ford’s biographer Alan Spraggett cited many examples of Ford cheating at seances which he also offered alternative explanations for. Looking at some transcripts of his seances it seems his style was very similar to cold reading and he was also noted as possibly having a photographic memory. Obviously I know very little about the man so can’t really make any reasonable judgements about his authenticity based on my own research.
I agree with you that there is still much we don’t understand and that doesn’t add up. I think if someone like yourself who has very extensive knowledge on the subject is still somewhat slightly perplexed by the numerous anomalies this subject seems to throw up then that speaks for itself.
With regard to those on the other side as not appearing very bright this is obviously noticeable in many instances I think. I suppose you also have to remember the effect the medium is having themselves on the outcome. Some mediums while having very impressive powers also were not the sharpest tool in the shed so to speak and some would have limited vocabulary. The medium being the conduit for the communication to take place means they are acting as a filter of sorts and we don’t really know just how much this filtering is affecting the communication but obviously a lot is happening on a subliminal level I think. But yes all very complex indeed and a puzzle of many parts to try and fit together.
Not at all. Obviously, no age has a monopoly on ignorance. I daresay (if global geo-politics is any measure) that if anything, in spite of the far greater learning materials available to us, we may have a greater density of “mind-denseness” today than in past generations.
The need for the type of physical demonstration you’re writing about will undoubtedly always be with us. I think (if I can presume to speak for Amos as well) what we’re both saying is that while the show-biz type physical phenomena may at times be necessary, its innate value, its true meaning, isn’t even in the same universe as the more “message-laden” content of the deeper spiritual phenomena.
Or to put it in terms that our Aussie friend Bruce might use, in advertising-speak, “You gotta stop ‘em before you can sell ‘em.” But the message involved in the “selling” is always going to have far more “meat” to it than the “stopping.”
Don Porteous, Tue 19 Sep, 12:38
Michael and Mark,
I look at proof for mediumship most days. I am conscious of the standards of proof. Civil cases require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases, with judgements made on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt.
I was wondering if your 13th witness was in a criminal trial or a civil?
I think of a case where the medium is taking action against Mr X who the medium has believed has been defamed by him. Mr X has written that the medium is a fake. Defamation is in the civil court and a balance of probability will occur.
You usually list your level of belief as 87% etc. At which level of probability will the case be in favour of the medium?
In these cases it is the essence of truth that determines if the witness is to be believed. Gustave Geley appears to me a truthful man.
Mark mentioned the Houdini case. I thought Scientific American group was present see Beatrice signature. https://issuu.com/conjuringarts/docs/pages_from_the_houdini_messages
In legal cases the decision is made on the available evidence. I look at messages from the After Life most days for proof. I use the beyond reasonable doubt as my standard of proof. In Gordon Smiths book (Scottish medium) which I have just read there are statements given freely which show proof of the correctness of his messages.
Bruce Williams, Tue 19 Sep, 12:26
I meant to mention in my last comment that i met both Frank C. Tribbe, an attorney, and Dr. Berthold Schwarz, a psychiatrist, and both sat with Arthur Ford and my recollection is that neither one had any doubts about him. I just pulled a Ford book from a shelf and noted that it has an inscription to Frank from Arthur Ford, dated Sept. 23, 1952. The title of the book is “Why We Survive.” It is difficult to believe that a person could write what he does in this book and be a fraud, but I guess it is possible.
Incidentally, Tribbe wrote, “A Portrait of Jesus,” which is about the Shroud of Turin and Schwarz wrote “A Psychiatrist Looks at ESP,” both very interesting books.
Michael Tymn, Tue 19 Sep, 02:51
Mark, I don’t know what to think about Arthur Ford, and that’s why I haven’t devoted a blog to him. He is said to have had a photographic memory and to have been an alcoholic. Supposedly, William V. Rauscher, his literary executor, came upon files in Ford’s estate suggesting that he was cheater, but I don’t recall all the details of this. There were many phenomena associated with Ford that appeared beyond cheating, but which people not familiar with the nuances of mediumship may have interpreted as cheating. As I recall, someone came upon some of Dr. Geley’s research after Geley was killed in a plane crash and concluded that Geley knew of cheating by Eva C., but here again we get into the area of conscious fraud vs. unconscious fraud, the latter taking place while the medium is in a trance state and the movements of the medium’s body supposedly carried out by the spirits using it pointing to fraud. The big question then becomes whether the spirits knew that their efforts would be interpreted as fraud, which, apparently, they seemingly didn’t. As both Crawford and Geley observed, the spirits experimenting on the other side didn’t come across as being very bright. Perhaps they were low-level spirits who didn’t know what was going on relative to scientific testing. It is all very confusing. Since “spirits” were not part of the researchers’ protocol, it was deemed fraud by them, even if unconscious. Then people who later read about the research and didn’t understand all the warps, spins, and twists, simply labeled it fraud This is one reason why Professor James Hyslop avoided physical mediumship and stuck with mental mediumship, even though he came to recognize that mental mediumship has its share of such puzzlements. As least, that is how I interpret it.
Michael Tymn, Tue 19 Sep, 02:20
Amos and Don,
I don’t quite understand your comments. Are you suggesting that there are no longer enough “dense-minded” materialists to concern ourselves with the physical phenomena, whether past or present? I am not aware of any study or survey suggesting that there has been a reduction in the “dense-minded” population. It seems to me that they make up a greater percentage of the population than ever.
Michael Tymn, Mon 18 Sep, 22:36
Belatedly (I’m just getting around to looking into this particular item)...
Your post at the very beginning of this thread might be your single best offering in the years that I’ve been here. While there’s obviously some degree of value that can be derived from any of the various degrees of physical phenomena, that value pales in comparison to the far more germane items of a more purely spiritual nature. As I point out somewhere (I don’t recall exactly where) in my first book, both Mary and Imperator were most emphatic in pointing out that the only real purpose for the physical types of phenomena, was to convince the more “dense-minded” materialists who couldn’t be persuaded in any other way.
Thanks for your insights…
Don Porteous, Mon 18 Sep, 18:05
Slightly off topic but I’ve recently been pouring over the book ‘Spirit intercourse it’s theory and practice’ by James Hewat McKenzie. In the section on Objective Phenomena under the heading ‘Dematerialisation the passage of matter through matter’ he writes about how Houdini dematerialises his physical body and I quote the following ;
Mark Harrison, Mon 18 Sep, 12:00
Dematerialization is performed by methods similar in operation to those in which the psycho-plastic essence is drawn from the medium. The body of the medium may be reduced to half its ordinary weight in the materializing seance room, but in the case of dematerialization the essence continues to be drawn until the whole physical body vanishes, and the substance composing it is held in suspension within the atmosphere, much in the same way as moisture is held by evaporation. While in this state Houdini was transferred from the stage to the retiring-room behind, and there almost instantaneously materialized. The speed with which this dematerialization is performed is much more rapid than is possible in the materializing seance room, where time is required for the essence to be crystallized into psycho-plastic matter. Not only was Houdini’s body dematerialized, but it was carried through the locked iron tank, thus demonstrating the passage of matter through matter.
Now we know that all Houdini’s apparent feats of magic were very well planned and executed tricks. He went to great lengths learning the workings of every conceivable lock and learnt how to pick them. He mastered untying knots with his toes, holding his breath for more than three minutes and withstanding freezing cold temperatures. But back then many regarded him in touch with the unknown or to Spiritualists the spirit world and he got his special powers from there. I’m not saying that dematerialisation is possible but certainly in Houdini’s case it wasn’t. But I think this example shows how people can be duped into thinking otherwise and adopting some kind of supernatural explanation.
Incidentally after his mother died Houdini set out to try and find out where her spirit had gone to and if there was an afterlife could he contact her? On the death of his mother her last word to him was ‘forgive’ so he used this as a test when he went out seeking mediums in order to try and make contact. It soon became apparent to him that many if not all the mediums he sort in this endeavour were fraudsters because not one could produce evidence of the last word that his mother said to him. He then set out to uncover all the fraudulent mediums he could find who were making money out of peoples misfortune and grief.
Before his unfortunate and tragic death by a fatal punch to test the strength of his abdominal muscles which burst his appendix he left a secret code to his wife Bess. If there was a life after death he would try and send this code via a medium from the other side. Only he and Bess (Beatrice) knew the secret code so this would be proof to her that he had indeed carried on after his death. It then transpired that the code was received via the medium Arthur Ford which is when all the fun started. The message was received from Houdini’s mother while Ford was in trance. The sceptics jumped om it. It was speculated that Ford had discovered the code from the book ‘Houdini, his life story’ the year before where the code was supposedly revealed but on further inspection it seems this was not so as the book according to various sources apparently has no direct mention to it. Bess then concluded that Ford had misled her and so refused his message as being proof of Houdini’s survival of bodily death. Ford was later kicked out by the spiritualists for what they claimed was dodgy dealings but later in the fiasco he was reinstated again.
I don’t want to go to much into it as it’s a very intriguing story with twists and turns similar in nature to the Fox sisters and Bang sisters with testimonies being recanted and some very interesting characters being involved along the way and the overall intentions and scruples of the main players are not fully understood. Was it Houdini having a last laugh? his last final trick or rouse from beyond the grave or was it just a big publicity stunt for financial gain for numerous parties involved? or even an elaborate plan by the sceptics to once again tarnish spiritualism and deter many away from the belief in a life after death.
I couldn’t resist connecting the instinct bad instinct joke with the thinking on page 281 of From the Unconscious to the Conscious, by Gustave Geley, Harper & Brothers, 1920.
“It is also indispensable that instinct, fertilised by conscious acquisitions, should evolve by transformation.
This is what has occurred in the transition from animality to humanity. In Man, accordingly, instinct is duplicated. There remains in him an animal and physiological instinct which plays a less and less important part. There is also a higher instinct which is but another name for intuition.
Intuition is instinct renovated, idealised, and transformed. As soon as this has appeared, consciousness has played a great part.
I funded high technology companies and looked for this intuition of developing a product that understood needs and wants of a market.
Bruce Williams, Mon 18 Sep, 01:35
Gustave Geley had a very good understanding of how concepts are connected, thanks for showcasing his views.
Michael and Amos,
The molds at this time were used to reproduce porcelain dolls (yes I made reproduction dolls). One of my fellow doll collectors was a big scary guy so when we were talking about French dolls at a meeting, most assumed they they were our poor girlfriends.
The technique described is standard with the plaster mold in the shape having slip poured in to it. The French were expert at this technique.
I was wondering if the spirits used a 3D printing technique where filament is laid down to form the hand or face.
Amos, my compliment is sincere. I am often blunt in my expression but I will give credit when credit is due. I present a medium’s point of view but still can appreciate reasoned thinking.
Having said that the woo-woo explanation would not fly even in a church filled with lots of active spirits. It sounds much like the old joke about a smelly skunk called In. This skunk died suddenly and when the medium skunk brought through messages from In to his grieving skunk friends the medium was challenged by one in the crowd. How do you know it is In?
Bruce Williams, Fri 15 Sep, 13:53
Instinct replied the medium.
Thanks to Bruce for adding that very meaningful quote from Geley’s book. Here’s a little more on the history of ectoplasm:
It was reported somewhere—I don’t recall my original reference—that a medium in the service of Emperor Hsiao Wu of China during the Fifth Century A.D. produced ectoplasm. L. B. Paton wrote: “There was a wu who could see spirits, and who assured the emperor that it would be possible to make his deceased secondary consort appear. The emperor was very glad of it, and bade him evoke her. In a few minutes, she was actually seen on a curtain in the shape which she had had when alive. The emperor desired to speak with her, but she remained silent; and just as he would fain have grasped her hand, she vanished.” This reference goes on to say that spirits occasionally themselves, but only the upper half of the body, the lower half seemingly veiled as if by “a cloud.” (Note: The expression “woo-woo,” to suggest paranormal activity, is believed to have originated with Emperor Wu.)
Jumping ahead to around 1743, we discover that Emanuel Swedenborg, the renowned Swedish scientist turned mystic, wrote of “a kind of vapour steaming from the pores of my body” during his “visions.” He described it as visible watery vapour that fell downward upon the carpet.
Many thanks to all others for their comments. They are much appreciated.
Michael Tymn, Fri 15 Sep, 07:26
Andrew, I agree with you 100% concerning the the book by Victor and Wendy Zammit. And let’s not forget their weekly Afterlife Report. I am constantly amazed and in awe at all the information they provide on a weekly basis. My interview with them can be found in the archives for May 20, 2013. I didn’t realize the interview was more than 10 years ago. I would have guessed 3-4 years ago. Time flies.
Michael Tymn, Fri 15 Sep, 07:12
I read Jozef Rulof’s book, “A View into the Hereafter,” Volume 1, many years ago and found it very interesting. Coincidentally, I pulled it from a book shelf about a month ago and put it in a stack of books to reread. I vaguely recall wondering what Volume 2 could possibly cover, since he seemed to cover it all in Volume 1. I will get to rereading it soon and will plan to do a blog on it.
Michael Tymn, Fri 15 Sep, 06:52
Whenever anyone mentions my name, I feel compelled to respond. So, here goes!
I am flattered if you think that my comment is one that “inspires to greatly improve intelligence.”
(Maybe you really didn’t mean that but you said you found my comment “inspiring” so I took it that way!)
I also found your comment that if you start agreeing with me that “it will lead to a stranger world.” Yes, that is what I strive for with my comments. I really want people to start thinking about these things rather than just accepting what someone else says. In contrast to Larry, I think there is a lot to learn from the discussions on Michael’s website. Some interest me and some—- not so much, but I do enjoy the exchange of ideas offered by everyone. Perhaps one of the main things I have learned from Michael, is discipline, discipline in terms of response to comments with which I strongly disagree but for the sake of civility I just don’t comment at all. As has often been said, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” And I think I have a tendency to rile up people sometimes, (unintentionally) so to prevent getting kicked-off of the comments section it is better for me to just shut up. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 14 Sep, 17:20
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 14 Sep, 16:42
The article about Reese and Matt was very interesting. Cases like that should be studied more closely as part of the “mind/body” research and evidence of survival of consciousness. I think this is another example of evidence that the brain and mind (spirit/consciousness) are separate. The brain being a filter and responsible for control of the body while the consciousness is entirely separate and comes from someplace else. It is interesting how Reese knew vocabulary, grammar and syntax, seemingly to a highly educated degree. How did he learn this? In some way it makes me think of Pearl Curran’s ability to use language that she had never learned and other cases of Xenoglossy. This is the kind of ‘evidence’ that for me suggests survival of consciousness, more so than wax hands or feet of ‘spirits’. Maybe all of these autistic people have within them the consciousness of a past life or lives, but due to the defective brain they can not control or otherwise instruct the muscles of speech to let it out. How did Reese gain the ability to write like that, encumbered by his autism disorder as he was and a diagnostic determination that he had the mental capacity of a 3-year-old? That is the question! - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 14 Sep, 16:23
Thanks for the reference to the mediumship of Jozef Rulof! I was not aware of his work in Europe. Apparently, he was quite prolific. I will order one of his books. Thanks again! - AOD
Did anyone heared of the books of Jozef Rulof (1898-1952), a Dutch medium, who wrote about 20 books about all the subjects of this blog? He was unknown to me before my sister in law asked me if I knew him.
Chris De Cat, Thu 14 Sep, 10:58
The previous quote Unconscious to the Conscious, by Gustave Geley, Harper & Brothers, 1920; p268 has an interesting following paragraph.
“Even this is not all. This directing intelligence
Bruce Williams, Thu 14 Sep, 02:57
seems to be deeply aware of much that we do not know; it can distinguish between the essence of things and their representations; it knows these sufficiently to be able to modify at its will the relations which normally govern these representations in space and time. In a word
the higher phenomena of mediumship seem to indicate, to necessitate, and to proclaim direction, knowledge, and abilities which surpass the powers—even the sub¬conscious powers—of the mediums.”
This is the bit that mediums know only too well when the information is well beyond their abilities. Mediums are as shocked as the person but as you are trying to keep up with the transmission of the message you do not fully comprehend its significance.
Michael and Amos,
The 13th witness article is very interesting. “These frequently show direction and intention which cannot, unless very arbitrarily, be referred to the medium or the experimenters. We do not find this direction and intelligence either in the normal consciousness of the medium, nor in his somnambulistic consciousness, nor in his impressions, his desires, or his fears, whether direct, indirect, suggested, or voluntary. We can neither produce the phenomena nor modify them. All happens as though the directing intelligence were independent and autonomous.” (1-pgs. 267-268)”
The medium knows that the direction and responses are not of their choice. It is like taking off down a rabbit hole in your mind and not wanting to go as your normal path is familiar. Strange responses start to flow.
It is a bit like the comments in this blog, some inspire to greatly improve intelligence some less so. I found that the comment by Amos inspiring but I worry that if I start agreeing with Amos that it will lead to a stranger world.
One of my former top students in cybersecurity (critical thinking skills) moved from Christianity to Islam and now to Judaism. I keep in contact with her in her travels around the world. She knows that I talk to dead people which is very unusual. I keep that information very quiet. Her comment in a recent discussion on consciousness - Makes as much sense as anything else
So Amos, makes as much sense as anything else is the best I can offer at this stage.
Bruce Williams, Thu 14 Sep, 01:07
Not exactly on topic, but concerning the subject of consciousness, some might be interested in the story at the following link. Be sure to read to the last four paragraphs to grasp what this autistic young man experienced from age 19 to the present, after he learned to communicate.
Be sure to read to the last four paragraphs of the attached link. Hard to believe this kid went from a supposed 3-year-old mentality to writing what is in the last four graphs.
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Sep, 23:55
Sorry meant to add great article Michael I always look forward with great anticipation wondering what your next Blog post will be and you never disappoint. You are a mine of knowledge for those just setting out on the bottom rung of the ladder and thanks for taking the effort and time.
Mark Harrison, Wed 13 Sep, 23:36
Thanks again Michael for another interesting blog that generated some useful comments from thoughtful readers. I’d like to suggest that after many years of reading your blogs , books and a variety of articles as well as websites I finally read Victor and Wendy Zammit’s book “A Lawyer presents the evidence for the Afterlife’ It was an excellent review of the entire evidence for the existence of the Afterlife. I’d highly recommend it to both seasoned practitioners as well as newcomers to Spiritualism. Does a wonderful job of covering so many facets of Psychic Phenomena as well as the incredible people who observed and wrote of their experiences. It’s a book I will read again if I start to have any doubts since the credibility of the people involved is beyond question so if any reader has not read this book please do so . Andrew Simpson
andrew g simpson, Wed 13 Sep, 22:56
From German researcher and former Catholic priest Johannes Greber, quoting a spirit message relative to od, another name for ectoplasm;
“There are many degrees of odic concentration or materialization, from that visible only to a clairvoyant’s eye to the complete materialization of spirits, in which case they differ in no respect from a material body. The degree of condensation is therefore dependent upon the amount of od available to the spirit world for the given purpose.”
“Od also possesses color, which varies for each creature, running from the deepest black through billions of shades to the most resplendent white. You mortals cannot even conceive of the variety of these colors.”
“In order that clairvoyance in this field may be possible, the clairvoyant must in some way establish contact with the od of the person whose destiny is under consideration. He must either have that person before him in the flesh, or else he must get into touch with some object that has been in the person’s possession and to which, consequently, something of his odic radiation clings.”
“Inasmuch as od is spiritual in its nature, it also has the property, in common with spirits, of being unaffected by the resistance offered by matter of any kind. In the same way as it permeates the body pertaining to it, it can pass through any other substance once it has left the body. There is nothing that can obstruct it. You have something similar in the case of the so-called Roentgen rays, so that it will not be difficult for you to understand what I am saying.”
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Sep, 22:13
Larry, we really differ there. If ectoplasm is really the “life force,” which it is believed to be, it would seemingly be the most important subject and clearly the most neglected by science. A real paradox.
Michael Tymn, Wed 13 Sep, 20:25
Imagine a technology that could project your awareness and body to, let’s say a laboratory in France. Perhaps it’s a bit iffy, such that full materialization is dependent upon ideal conditions, and often only a hand or face might be manifest for a short time. If such a nascent technology existed, millions would be invested to perfect and utilize it. It would be an astounding Nobel worthy breakthrough. That our friends on the other side have mastery over this medium is evidence of genius, not of some crude, low level efforts.
It is true that dipping a discarnate hand into wax lacks the sublimity of a sermon by Silver Birch, but it is striking evidence that a refined intelligence of some kind, capable of borrowing substance from a medium and sitters, and molding it into form is at work.
One of the advantages of ectoplasmic evidence is that it can be photographed, and captured in a mold. It’s tangible existence can be ignored, but not denied. It is an importance piece of the evidence of the afterlife.
In Michael’s prize winning essay https://www.bigelowinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tymn-evidence-life-after-death.pdf, he resurrects turn of the century attorney Edward Randall to plead the case for survival. Randall devoted twenty years to working with the gifted clairvoyant, clairaudient, and physical medium Emily French. The testimony of spirits speaking through the ectoplasmic voice box, ranges from mundane accounts of the journey through the gateway of death to many illuminating passages as to the reality of life here and in the hereafter. It is reasonable to expect that speaking through a voice box or manifesting materially might require a proximity to our sphere, hence the appearance of apparitions shortly after death, or the earthbound hijinks of poltergeists. For instance, Jesus appeared to his disciples shortly after his crucifixion. Arguably, his materialized appearance was as much a part of his gospel as the Sermon on the Mount.
David Chilstrom, Wed 13 Sep, 19:29
About the least important subject I can think of to learn about
larry baum, Wed 13 Sep, 17:58
If I made the most perfect cream cake ever I mean 100% perfection a scientist would still spit the cherry out calling it slightly bitter. There is apparently more of what I’d consider ‘tangible phenomena’ that has been notified in certain instances. I remember hearing Robin Foy (he of the Scole Experiment) talking about how a hamster was teleported from one place to another and certain of his cats would disappear and then appear again right in front of his eyes. For someone like me that’s a hard thing to believe unless I witnessed it for myself. Then there are the production of apports and splashes of water etc etc.
Mark Harrison, Tue 12 Sep, 18:37
Trying to replicate a given phenomena in the real world and succeeding also doesn’t mean the phenomena is not genuine it just means that fraud is capable of being carried out if it was so intended. Again I can see the exercise there from a materialist point of view might be to cast doubt on the whole shebang. I wonder if they could replicate the luminous discs flying round the room in the presence of Etta Wriedt or the bright little orbs that passed through objects and people in the Scole experiment and were felt as solid objects in their hands. I arrest my case.
I agree with you relative to the many variations of ectoplasm—everything from a milky white liquid flow to a steamy vapor. I don’t think it was reported at all with D. D. Home or Eusapia Paladino and I suspect that it was so vaporish in the dim light that it just went unnoticed. It’s difficult to believe that researchers like Geley, Richet, Lodge, Flammarion, Hamilton, Crawford and many others just imagined seeing it. Moreover, they photographed it.
I’ve more or less concluded that the “soul mist” seen leaving the body at the time of death is the “life force” and is just another name for ectoplasm. My blogs of November 23, December 9, and December 21, 2020 dug more into the nature of ectoplasm in a “roundtable” with those esteemed researchers.
Michael Tymn, Tue 12 Sep, 07:57
Thanks for the link to Wayne Bush’s site. I haven’t had the opportunity to look at more than the last post there, but, unless I missed it, he doesn’t get into the spiritual evolutionary aspect of it. I inferred from Bush’s last post that every soul supposedly begins with identical experiences in the afterlife, which is opposed to spiritual evolution, i.e., some not even knowing they are dead and others realizing it from the get-go.
What he says in the one I read makes sense for more advanced souls, but I need to read more of it to get a better handle on what he is saying. So much of it is symbolic and apparently beyond human understanding. See my blog of October 28, 2019 in the archives.
Michael Tymn, Mon 11 Sep, 23:15
What impressed me most here was the precise account of how ectoplasm works in its many manifestations. Because it doesn’t show up in countless sittings that are impressively evidential, I’ve preferred not to think much about it. This blog has forced me to think about it, but still the question remains: Why does ectoplasm show up sometimes and not at all at others? And is there always a tradeoff between impressive mental mediumship and ectoplasmic physical mediumship? Do they get in each other’s way?
Stafford, Mon 11 Sep, 23:00
Thanks, Keith, your you-tube summarizes it all. For the benefit of those who have not seen it, it can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmzMW6d53kg&list=PLLB-82YMhiPFPKSm2Ke69aK0DKTftpvo0&index=4
As Geley points out, while others succeeded in making such hand molds, it took them much longer. I don’t recall the time factor, but it was something like 30 seconds for the spirits and 30 minutes for humans to make them. However, that is irrelevant considering the controls. The room was locked and the medium’s hands were being held. They thoroughly searched him beforehand to be sure he was not bringing any molds into the lab. Also, they had the molds inspected by various experts and confirmed that they did not belong to the medium or anyone in the room. They clearly did not match his hands or those of others. They even put some blue dye in the plaster after the doors were locked to see if the dye would show in the molds. It did, which further confirmed that the medium didn’t otherwise smuggle them into the lab. More on this subject in a future blog, which will discuss the research of the same medium (Kluski) carried out by Professor F. W. Pawlowski, who taught aeronautical engineering at Michigan State University and was visiting his former home in Poland when he was invited to sit with Kluski. His report is set forth in September 1925 issue of the ASPR Journal and fully confirms that of Geley.
Michael Tymn, Mon 11 Sep, 22:59
I think over the years since Geley’s time, concepts about survival after death have changed significantly. There was a period of time when experimenters were trying to capture photographs of the deceased and in Geley’s case in addition to photographs, wax molds of their hands, feet and in rare cases, their face. Somehow photographs, and wax impressions of hands, feet and faces as well as detection of heartbeats and body temperature were thought to be good evidence of survival. Today, those things are not good enough and are somewhat dissonant with current thought about spirits and what actually survives. Material evidence is not good enough because there are multiple ways of deceit and fraud in producing it and today, as a spiritualist, materialism is far from being in vogue; parapsychologists are looking for survival of consciousness, not survival of a body, and that can’t be found in a wax mold or a photograph.
Those who report a near death experience report entities reminiscent of human form but often appearing as light beings or light spheres, not likely to leave an imprint in wax. And ancestors who have died appear younger and even more beautiful than when they were alive not as the bedraggled, often distorted faces of spirits captured in photographs or the concupiscent disintegrating physical form of Katey King with tachycardia.
I think one needs to think about the logic in seeking material evidence for survival. Consciousness is not material and has no need, that is known yet, for a physical/material form in which to manifest itself. Survival of consciousness, though difficult to evidence, is intimated by the ability of consciousness to manipulate physical reality by causing things contrary to the current laws of physics. Mental mediums provide information which they had absolutely no way of knowing. Terminally ill people are miraculously healed, almost overnight. People are edged back onto their predetermined path in life, seemingly without their effort, when they have strayed. People exhibit skills and knowledge that they have no way of learning or knowing in their present life. And children report specific details of a life previously lived. These are a few examples of the way spirits manifest themselves on this material plane today and perhaps have done so for millennia.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 11 Sep, 20:05
There has to be a new way of looking for evidence of survival of consciousness. That way is not to be found in wax molds of hands and feet of spirits or photographs of old human beings long deceased. It will most likely be found in the effects of consciousness on physical life whether it be in the body or out of the body. - AOD
Sorry. Here is the website: https://www.trickedbythelight.com/tbtl/index.html
Gerry K, Mon 11 Sep, 14:31
I know this is off topic but have you seen the following website by Wayne Bush? Lucifer is the “light bearer”.
Gerry K, Mon 11 Sep, 14:30
Thanks for this piece, Michael. Sometimes the translation of Geley into English is not all that easily understood, which is a pity. But, for me, the photographs provide another level of proof. Those hands in particular I find impressive and convincing, but others have tried to make these hands by normal methods and claimed success, including Harry Houdini, although it took him half an hour, and in 1997 two researchers, Polidoro and Garlaschelli. If you want more on this , and far more materialisation pictures you could watch my documentary on Youtube entitled ‘Can Spirits Materialise?’- 32 minutes duration, having had almost 44,000 views.
Keith P in England, Mon 11 Sep, 12:43
Add your comment