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When Tables Attacked People: A Life After Death Situation

Posted on 07 November 2022, 9:17

Some of the mediumistic phenomena of yesteryear were “absurd,” as Professor Charles Richet, the 1912 Nobel Prize winner in medicine, put it.  Nevertheless, he added, some were true, even if they were absurd.  Perhaps even more absurd than the many languages that came through the direct-voice mediumship of George Valiantine, as discussed in the prior blog here, is the phenomenon of tables attacking people, or, in some cases, just floating around the room.  One such phenomenon is reported by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack in her 2020 book, In Search of Maria B. Hayden, which is subtitled “The American Medium Who brought Spiritualism to the U.K.”

It was in October 1852 that Mrs. (later Dr.) Hayden first visited the Knebworth Park estate and house of the renowned British writer Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, (below) the author who told the world that “the pen is mightier than the sword.”  Lytton accepted many of the dictates of Spiritualism and was very much interested in Hayden’s mediumship. Lytton’s son, Robert, apparently corresponded regularly with the famous American poet, Robert Browning, and in a letter of July 19, 1854, quoted in the book, Robert told Browning, “[My father] made some querulous & impatient observations derogatory to the character of the spirits (questioning, too, I believe, their existence as spirits) just as he was leaving the room, when suddenly the Table (near which no person was standing) of its own accord, as one says, sprang at him like a dog. The Medium was no less astonished than himself – & suggested that ‘the spirits’ were angry with his language about them. ‘Then’ said he laughing, ‘they’d better spring at me again, I think!’ And immediately the Table flew at him, knocked him against the wall, and pinned him there so close, that as it was a large table, he was in danger of being crusht [sic], after three or four minutes, the table moved slowly back (with a sort of revolving orbit-like movement) to the original position!”  Robert Lytton added that in addition to himself, Mrs. Hayden, and a lawyer friend were present, all at some distance from the table. 

lytton

On another visit. Sir Edward was speaking reproachfully to Mrs. Hayden, commenting that he was wasting his time and money in attending her séances “when a large table in the room gave a sudden leap toward him. Presently it leaped back again, and ended by moving round and round, first slowly and solemnly and then swiftly.” It was further explained that Sir Edward and Mrs. Hayden were standing at the fireplace, some distance from the table when it went into action. On another occasion, Sir Edward begged the spirits to make a large lamp on the table rock to and fro, and the spirits apparently complied. 

Even more “absurd,” extending to the point of being “ridiculous,” a phenomenon took place with the mediumship of Mina Crandon, aka “Margery,” during June 1923 at the Crandon home in Boston, Mass.  It was reported that the discarnate mother of Dr. Frederick Caldwell, one of the sitters, took possession of the table and caused it to lurch toward Caldwell, then pushed him out of the den, through the dark corridor, and into the Crandons’s bedroom, and then chased him down the stairs, all the while smashing walls and causing other damage. According to Dr. Mark Richardson, a Harvard University professor of medicine who was also present, he and others stopped the table from doing further damage.

margery
Margery and Dr. Mark Richardson

In his 1917 book, On the Threshold of the Unseen, physicist Sir William Barrett recalled the sitting with Irish medium Kathleen Goligher, who was being studied then by Dr. William Crawford of Queen’s University.  The sitting involved a small family circle gathered in a room illuminated with a bright gas flame burning in a lantern.  “They sat round a small table with hands joined together, but no one touching the table,” Barrett explained.  “Very soon knocks came and messages were spelt out as one of us repeated the alphabet aloud.  Suddenly the knocks increased in violence, and being encouraged, a tremendous bang came which shook the room and resembled the blow of a sledge hammer on an anvil.  A tin trumpet which had been placed below the table now poked out its smaller end close under the top of the table near where I was sitting.  I was allowed to try and catch it, but it dodged all my attempts in the most amusing way, the medium on the opposite side sat perfectly still, while at my request all held up their joined hands so that I could see no one was touching the trumpet, as it played peep-boo with me.  Sounds like the sawing of wood, the bouncing of a ball, and other noises occurred, which were inexplicable.” 

The table then began to rise from the floor some 18 inches and remained suspended in the air.  “I was allowed to go up to the table and saw clearly no one was touching it, a clear space separating the sitters from the table,” Barrett continued the explanation.  “I tried to press the table down, and though I exerted all my strength could not do so; then I climbed up on the table and sat on it, my feet off the floor, when I was swayed to and fro and finally tipped off. The table of its own accord now turned upside down, no one touching it, and I tried to lift it off the ground, but it could not be stirred, it appeared screwed down to the floor.  At my request all the sitters’ clasped hands had been kept raised above their heads, and I could see that no one was touching the table.  When I desisted from trying to lift the inverted table from the floor, it righted itself again on its own accord, no one helping it.  Numerous sounds displaying an amused intelligence then came, and after each individual present had been greeted with some farewell raps the sitting ended.”
 
Barrett said that he could not imagine how the cleverest conjurer could have performed what he experienced, especially since it was clear to him that there was no elaborate apparatus in the room.  Moreover, Dr. Crawford had been observing the Goligher circle for six months or more before his observations.  “That there is an unseen intelligence behind these manifestations is all we can say, but that is a tremendous assertion, and if admitted destroys the whole basis of materialism,” Barrett added.

Back to 1852, Adin Ballou, a Unitarian minister who began investigating the strange phenomena a year or so earlier, wrote: “I have seen tables and lightstands of various sizes moved about in the most astonishing manner, by what purported to be the same invisible agency, with only the gentle and passive resting of the hands or fingerends of the Medium on one of their edges. Also, many distinct movings of such objects, by request without the touch of the medium at all. I have sat and conversed by the hour together with the authors of these sounds and motions, by means of signals first agreed on; asking questions and obtaining answers – receiving communications spelled out by the alphabet – discussing propositions sometimes made by them to me, and vice versa – all by a slow process, indeed, but with every possible demonstration of intelligence, though not without incidental misapprehension and mistakes.”

Judge John Edmonds, then chief justice of the New York Supreme Court, began his investigation of mediums about the same time as Ballou,  He wrote: “I have seen a chair run across the room, backward and forward, with no mortal hand touching it. I have seen tables rise from the floor and suspended in the air. I have seen them move when not touched.  I have known a small bell fly around the room over hour heads. I have known a table, at which I was sitting, turned upside down, then carried over my head, and put against the back of the sofa, and then replaced. I have seen a table lifted from the floor, when four able-bodied men were exerting their strength to hold it down….This is a very meager account of what only I have witnessed, aside from the countless incidents witnessed by others in different parts of the world. But here is enough to show that these manifestations were not made by mortals, but by a power which had all the attributes of the human mind and heart.”

Also during the early 1850s, Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, a lawyer who served as governor of the Territory of Wisconsin and as a U.S. senator for New York, upon hearing of Judge Edmonds’s experiences, undertook his own investigation. He reported a number of communication from his old friend John C. Calhoun, former vice-president of the United States who had died in 1850. When Tallmadge asked Calhoun the purpose of the communication, “My friend,” Calhoun replied, “the question is often put to you, ‘What good can result from these manifestations?’  I will answer it:  It is to draw mankind together in harmony, and convince skeptics of the immortality of the soul.”

Tallmadge explained “that these communications from Calhoun came through a large, heavy, round table, one at which 10-12 people could sit, by the tilting method (the alphabet recited by the sitters and the table would tilt at the correct letter). He observed the table move as much as three to four feet with nobody near it. During all these movements no person touched it, nor was any one near it,” Tallmadge explained.  After one sitting, he decided to see if he could move the table from a sitting position.  Applying as much force as possible, he was unable to budge it.  He then asked three women to assist him in moving the table.  “We lifted upon it until the leaf and top began to crack, and did not raise it a particle,” he continued. “We then desisted, fearing we should break it. I then said, ‘Will the spirits permit me to raise the table?’ I took hold alone, and raised it without difficulty!”

Tallmadge then asked the spirits if they could lift the table if he and the three ladies were sitting on it.  The spirits assented, but directed them to a square table in another room.  The four people climbed on to the table with Tallmadge in the middle.  “Two legs of it were then raised about six inches from the floor,” Tallmadge went on, “and then the other two legs were raised to a level of the first, so that the whole table was suspended in the air about six inches above the floor.  While thus seated on it, I could feel a gentle, vibratory motion, as if floating in the atmosphere.  After being thus suspended in the air for a few moments, the table was gently let down again to the floor.”

On May 9, 1874, Cambridge scholars Frederic W. H. Myers and Edmund Gurney     visited Anglican clergyman William Stainton Moses to observe his mediumship.  Myers reported that a table, untouched by human hands, rose from the floor and touched his throat and chest three times.  Then, he was raised to the table three times and twice levitated in the corner of the room.
Initially, Moses thought that his newfound “gift” was the work of the devil and wanted nothing to do with it, but communicating spirits informed him that the levitations and other physical phenomena were simply a way of making themselves known so that they could impart some higher teachings through him.  Moses developed into an automatic writing medium and over the next 20 years penned several books of profound wisdom from his spirit guides, much of it in conflict with his beliefs.

Charlton Templeman Speer, Moses’s biographer and friend, wrote that at least 10 different kinds of manifestations took place through Moses, including movements of heavy bodies, such as tables and chairs.  “Sometimes the table would be tilted up at a considerable angle; at other times the chairs of one or more of the sitters would be pushed more or less forcibly away from the table, until they touched the wall behind,” Speer wrote.  “Or the table would move away from the sitters on one side, and be propelled irresistibly against those on the other, compelling them to shift their chairs in order to avoid the advance of so heavy a piece of furniture.  The table in question, at which we usually sat, was an extremely weighty dining-table made of solid Honduras mahogany, but at times it was moved with much greater ease than the combined efforts of all the sitters could accomplish; and these combined efforts were powerless to prevent it moving in a certain direction, if the unseen force willed it to do so.  We frequently tested the strength of this force by trying to check the onward movement of the table, but without success.”

Were a famous British author, a respected Harvard professor of medicine, a renowned British physicist, a Unitarian minister, a chief justice of the New York Supreme Court, a
notable statesman, two illustrious Cambridge scholars, and an eminent Anglican priest all victims of hoaxes or were they hallucinating it all?  If we can’t believe them, who can we believe?


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: November 21

 


Comments

Jay…

Re: William Cartheuser…Yes, I write about him in the opening to Chapter 11 (on ITC) in my book. Apparently he was an accomplished direct-voice medium in the mid-1900’s. The particular incident I write about was a “test-seance” held by a New York broadcasting company in their Manhattan studio in the early 1950’s, in which they set up some “uncheatable” test conditions which they fully expected Cartheuser to fail at. Bottom line—he passed with flying colors. This was all done in conjunction with the American branch of the SPR.

Don Porteous, Mon 21 Nov, 19:26

Jay,
I have progressed further in to the book where the voices were revealed to be from William. The writer used a stethoscope to monitor the throat and found that William was able to create the various voices.
 
“Then the Elsie voice in the instrument could be heard with perfect clearness and it frequently seemed to carry several syllables over into the sounds of the Cartheuser voice. Cartheuser had forgotten to pinch the tube! This ability to vary the tension on the vocal cords is, I believe, unique. Certainly, the capacity to bring such tension of the cords that a man’s voice appears to be that of a child is most exceptional.
When I had obtained this information about Cartheuser’s methods, I called him into my office and in the presence of the secretary of the Society told him what I had found.

Who knows what will happen when I get to the end of the book. He must have been good.
Bruce

Bruce Williams, Mon 21 Nov, 11:46

Jay,
Thanks for mentioning William Cartheuser. I looked up https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Cartheuser and found a reference of which I was unaware -  MacComas, Henry C. (1937). Ghosts I Have Talked With. On page 37 there was an interesting section - “However, when the voice of “Dr. Andrews” came through the trumpet no one could detect any defects in his articulation. He represented a family doctor of the old school. His voice was as deliberate and clear as anyone could wish. Quite amusingly it would conjure up
a picture of the old fashioned doctor with his inquiries about your ailments. Quite
a different effect was produced when
“Black Bear,” the Indian, dropped in. “Dropped
in” is quite the right expression. This voice came
roaring down from the ceiling. Gruff and unconvincing was this ethereal aborigine. His broken English was pretty thoroughly fragmented but his labials and guturals were all right. Happily he did not come often. One meets altogether too many Indians at seances.
Far and away the most impressive voice that came
through the trumpets was that of little “Elsie.” It was splendid. Its articulation was clear and distinct and the range of the voice was that of
a little girl of about twelve or fourteen years. It gave the impression of a girl’s voice before it has “changed.”“

I am getting very interested in him as he had serious speech defects hence the references to the clear articulation of these spirit voices. I also liked the expression “One meets altogether too many Indians at seances.”  I am dealing with White eagle Lodge at the moment so some Indians have made it big in the spiritualist world. 

Back to this medium William Cartheuser.
Two possibilities - voices were done by him or that the voices were done by a group of accomplices that supported his fraud. The more voices means more members of the group that will spill the beans. Not smart, especially when in the book (from which I took this passage) mentions that many smart people were testing him. Using a group of people would be easily discovered especially a little girl.

So William was a master of voices! Wikipedia arrives at the same conclusion with
“Psychologist Henry C. McComas who observed Cartheuser at many sittings, detected his trickery. Cartheuser would get up from his chair, move the trumpets and produce all the voices himself.”

Problem is the speech defects given his background “he was of Pennsylvania Dutch
extraction and that he had worked as an automobile
mechanic.”  He was also said to have
a cleft palate. In speaking, his labials were blurred and his gutturals as well. Nothing could be more dreadful than trying to get a
message from him over the telephone. His voice was
about the usual range for male voices and had no
distinctive overtones that would distinguish it from other male voices.”

Ok, he was a master of voices that he kept secret as he was in deep cover for many years. A bit of a tall order. My range of voices are myself and a duck like voice Daffy Duck style and that’s about it.

Trumpets - why use trumpets at all? This was done in total darkness with luminous trumpets and on page 36 of the same book mentioned above we have “Then you ask yourself just what is steering that trumpet. Surely the medium cannot see in the dark; no one can. Even in daylight these movements would call for a good coordination between eye and hand.”

Why did you bring this man of mystery up?
I thought that William deserved a better Wiki entry.
Bruce

Bruce Williams, Mon 21 Nov, 07:52

Sorry, Jay, I have no info on William Cartheuser.

Chris, yes, there is a big paradox there—the most important thing is of the least concern.

Michael Tymn, Sun 20 Nov, 22:19

Hi do any of you have any information on the spiritualist medium William Cartheuser? I have not seen him mentioned on this website.

Jay, Sun 20 Nov, 19:33

Thanks Michael. It is a bit weird that there is so little scientific interest in the matter. Billions are spend on space traveling and on this issue there is little research.
I ask myself sometimes if science is afraid of what they might find so that their worldview would collapse in a second?

Chris, Sun 20 Nov, 17:58

Thanks Mike…

That will give me my homework for the next few days…

Don Porteous, Sun 20 Nov, 16:45

Don, thanks for your interest.  The posts on soul mist are at: October 4, 2010, June 11, 2012, June 2, 2017, and June 22, 2020.  I’d appreciate any thoughts or additional information you have on the subject.

Michael Tymn, Sat 19 Nov, 21:08

Michael…

Could you post the dates of your blogs on “soul mist”? I don’t believe I’ve seen them, but am most interested.

Thanks…

Don Porteous, Fri 18 Nov, 17:17

Chris,

To respond to your question about recent evidence of ectoplasm, there hasn’t been much that I know of, as there has been no real research in the area in many years.  However, I think it has been observed in the Stewart Alexander mediumship (see blog of 12 October 2020) and it has bee observed by physicist Dr. Jan Vandersande (see blog of 6 August 2021) Also, see my three blogs of 23 Sept. 2020 and the two following it. Also, keep in mind that “soul mist” the mysterious substance seen leaving the body at the time of death is apparently ectoplasm.  I have done several blogs on soul mist and one of them has generated more comments than any of the of 324 blogs here.

Michael Tymn, Thu 17 Nov, 20:58

Bill,
I agree with you when you write:

“But unless you are a physical medium or working closely with a physical medium all of this will be mere theory or abstraction—words—not direct experience, and, of course, how does one determine whether any particular source is credible or not?”

Very wise, Bill.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 17 Nov, 19:34

1. Amos. 2. Bruce.

Amos: “I want to be convinced about ectoplasm, I really do but I am just not there yet.”

Have you searched for information using the term itself, terms like “George Valiantine +direct voice mediumship,” “Leslie Flint,” etc.? This will bring up quite a few items, including YouTube presentations (including Leo Bonomo speaking on the topic). 

Using “ectoplasm” in the Seth search engine at https://nowdictation.com/ brings up some references, including two from _The Early Sessions_ Volume 4, Session 188, September 15, 1965 with short excerpts such as:

“We will now continue with our previous discussion, and carry it further. There are indeed connections between what is called ectoplasm and the composition of dream images. They are not the same thing, but they are closely allied. What is called the astral body is also composed of some of the same components.”

But unless you are a physical medium or working closely with a physical medium all of this will be mere theory or abstraction—words—not direct experience, and, of course, how does one determine whether any particular source is credible or not?

It looks to me as though ectoplasm is outside the boundaries of present day science, existing on the edges of physical and non-physical reality, connecting the two. At the same time, I’m convinced that present day science is more or less clueless about both realities, with its very warped conception of physical reality (and those who live in it) and general denial of the second, despite the existence, here and there, of some scientists who do have a clue.

Yet the situation could, theoretically, change with regards to ectoplasm, owing to its apparent nature, but what official body would sponsor research, pay the researchers, and publish articles in scientific journals on the topic?

I’m not sure that “table tipping” is necessarily accomplished using ectoplasm; I can only speculate as to how it might be accomplished.  That would be useless speculation.

(I wasn’t trying to minimize your response to my comment on the previous blog, btw, but was taken aback by your reference to what you termed “cults” —as though significant, multi-faceted mass movements of great variety of the last 70 years or so were nothing more than cults—and therefore to be ignored—clearly a perspective quite different from mine.)

Bruce:

I found my copy of _Afterlife_ and posted an extensive quote from it, but either I hit the wrong button or my comment did not pass muster for some reason.  I noted that although Wilson included a selected bibliography, there was no way to identify the original source of what would have to be treated as an amazing anecdote.

(You may have missed my reply to you on the previous blog, as I combined it, like this comment, with a reply to Amos.)

Bill

Bill Ingle, Thu 17 Nov, 17:19

Are there in recent years mentions of ectoplasma with photographic or video proof?

Chris, Thu 17 Nov, 08:34

Thanks Michael,
I want to be convinced about ectoplasm, I really do but I am just not there yet. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 15 Nov, 13:25

Dear all,

An engineer such as Crawford will, unless more careful to think imaginatively and rationally, try to find an explanation of movements of tables and the like having no humanly-sensible cause in the realms of his existing physico-mechanical knowledge, exactly the place the truth CANNOT be because it cannot be observed by the human sense organs. Hence the fantasy-hypothesis of his (postulated) ectoplasmic rods. The ancient Egyptians made this same mistake. Their tomb decorations are full of pictures of this false idea that the afterlife world is somehow the same as the world now around us. All religions make this mistake. I think that perhaps (and I do say ‘perhaps’) the open-minded physicist who understands the relativistic nature of world(s) is best protected from the danger of making this mistake. We cannot expect ‘other worlds’ to be simply duplicates, though alien, of this one that we find around us (note the exact structure of that phrase!). Just as relativity shows an entirely new world to those who think as Einstein did (NEWTON’S world is relativistic, but not thorough-going enough in that way and therefore containing the totally unnecessary hypothesis of the inverse square law of gravitation - a fiction if ever there was one), they “know” the Newtonian world, but fail to see it with Einstein’s RADICAL AND TOTAL relativity, so the “spiritual” worlds have to be “perceived-conceived” as self-consistent systems that are totally unlike the world we think we live in.

No wonder there is so much floundering-in-hypotheses to be seen amongst spiritualists, but so little reliable evidence for some of those hypotheses. If we understand the physical world better than most of us do we shall be able to empathise better with the analogous but not similar worlds that must be our new dwelling places beyond it. Eric Franklin - in haste - appointment elsewhere shortly.

Eric Franklin, Tue 15 Nov, 11:12

Bill,
I sent a reply last Thursday to you for the section in Afterlife page 110 regarding Agnes Nichols (Mrs Guppy) with her sunflower apports. She was transported four miles away with the accounts book she was working on to a Spiritualist meeting who asked for proof. She was described as mountainous woman. My reply quoting the section didn’t make it.
Eric (yes I check for close relatives first - not my wife but unknown teenagers) reminded me of a problem with a good friend. He phoned me as strange things were happening, furniture moving, annoying sounds etc, and asked if a recent dreamcatcher could have attracted a bad spirit.
As I know him well I tried something different (which I had not done before or since). He was 100 kms away. I remotely scanned his house and spotted a 50 year old male upset spirit on his lounge. He was a construction type worker who was angry. My friend said that it was his best friend (who I did not know) who had died a few weeks ago. I mentally spoke to the spirit and assumed that he was very upset about leaving his wife. I thought he must have loved her a lot. No he was angry that she had moved on to a new man weeks after he died and had even visited my friend that week to get their approval for their union.The spirit was not happy.

My friend told the merry widow about the anger and the new boyfriend said that he was also a medium and the husband had given them his blessings. This was to calm the merry widow.

My friend’s house had the problem with the spirit’s explosive energy. His wife was good friends with the wife (same nationality) and agreed that she needed to be happy. I had not found this explosive anger before but I delivered the message.

I thought of the movie Death become her with everyone passing from accidents.

I know about the rod theory but I think that there are other energy sources that spirits can use to move the furniture around. I watch the paranormal shows which have kitchen scenes of knives flying. Assuming there was honest reporting, that’s not a place I would like to visit. Anger, knives plus mental health problems are not great for a medium’s workplace. I stick to the spirits just moving small furniture around (wardrobes not included).

I hope one day to have a spirit that can make the roulette balls jump in to my spots but I feel that I would get asked to leave the casino.
Bruce

Bruce Williams, Tue 15 Nov, 05:22

Amos,

Thanks for the comments.  We’ll have to agree to disagree on ectoplasm.  There are simply too many credible people testifying to observations of it, some of them like Richet, Geley, and Schrenck-Notzing on dozens of experiments.  Richet and Schrenck-Notziing didn’t even believe in spirits or survival. I’ll forever be at 98.8% on survival, but I am stuck at 99.999% on ectoplasm.  Also, keep in mind the report by Sir William Barrett in this blog relative to Kathleen Goligher and Dr. William Crawford. Was he also duped by one or both of them?

Michael Tymn, Mon 14 Nov, 22:07

Michael,
Yes, I am aware of Scott Rogo’s untimely murder at age 40. Psi Encyclopedia has an excellent well-written article by Callum E. Cooper about Scott Rogo. 

https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/d-scott-rogo

Perhaps Scott Rogo is an under-rated researcher and author of parapsychological topics and I am glad to see Jon Beecher bring him to the fore again.  I intuit that there may be much unsaid about Scott Rogo which nevertheless was known about him at the time that may have worked against him in 1990 when he was murdered.

Rogo authored 24 books and many articles in his short life concerning parapsychological phenomena and he seemed to be a meticulous researcher.  Maybe White Crow Books will reissue some more of his books.  Rogo’s work is worth revisiting from a 2022 perspective. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 13 Nov, 20:55

Michael,

I am beginning to wonder about Crawford.  You quote him as saying in the Goliger case that he came to the conclusion that “phenomena produced are caused by flexible rod-like projections from the body of the medium” and that the projections or rods are the prime cause of, among other things, “levitation.”  I don’t see how his envisioned 5-foot “flexible rods’ would have caused the levitation of D.D. Home when he floated out of one window and into another window on the second story of a building or how rods lifted Mirabelli to the ceiling.  And what about Alec Harris who translocated from an upstairs room to the front door of his house and St. Joseph of Copertino who reportedly was seen levitating by crowds of people without the assistance of a medium’s “rods”, not to mention how 5-foot flexible projections could lift a solid oak dining room table with three or more people sitting on it.  Just how many “flexible rods” would it take to do that?  If they were “flexible” wouldn’t they just bend under the weight?

(There are magician tricks that utilize non-flexible rods hidden up the arm sleave of the “medium” that can be unobtrusively extended under the edge of a table to lift it but those could not be more than the length of the forearm and not five feet and they would only be effective with a light-weight or prop table made of balsa wood.  Maybe Crawford had been influenced by these magician tricks if he had been aware of them.)

I have to be honest Michael and with no intent to be argumentative but I have not been convinced that there is such a thing as “ectoplasm.”  I know this has been discussed here before and I don’t want to go into it again but I don’t think that there is good evidence that ectoplasm exists.  And most of the photographic evidence and lab analysis of ectoplasm makes me highly suspicious.

Dr. Crawford’s comment about “flexible rod-like projections from the body of the medium” in my opinion does not lend credibility to his research into parapsychological phenomena.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 13 Nov, 20:35

I have hesitated to send this comment as it is probably going to be seen as very tactless, and also as otiose because so obvious, but perhaps it is also true and therefore forgiveable because it is explicative. When the dancing foot of the bed disturbed their sleep was it simply Bruce Williams’ deceased wife protesting that other women were occupying what she still regarded as her bed?

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 13 Nov, 14:23

Amos,

I should also add the comment by Dr. William J. Crawford, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, relative to his research with medium Kathleen Goliger:

“I have come to the general conclusion from the results of my experimental work, and from observations of the [Goligher] circle, extending over two and a half years, that the phenomena produced are caused by flexible rod-like projections from the body of the medium: that these rods are the prime cause of the phenomena, whether they consist of levitations, movements of the table about the floor, rappings, or touchings of other variations.”

Although Crawford didn’t use the word “ectoplasm,” indications are that they were ectoplasmic rods.  He also reported that the rods seemed to extend no more than five feet from the medium.  That leaves me wondering how the table in the Margery case chased one of the sitters around the house and down the stairs.  There is no indication that Margery was within five feet of him during that chase.  There must be something more to it.

Michael Tymn, Sun 13 Nov, 05:44

Amos,

Thanks for the reference. Coincidentally, I received a phone call from a reader two days ago about that very book, “The Infinite Boundary,” wondering if I had read it.  I did read it about 30 years ago and still have a copy.  I have it on my desk to reread after I finish two other books and will likely do a blog on it. I assume you are aware of the strange ending of author Rogo’s life.

Michael Tymn, Sat 12 Nov, 23:02

Michael,
I have been reading a most excellent book by D. Scott Rogo titled “The Infinite Boundary: Spirit Possession, Madness and Multiple Personality”  republished by White Crow Books in 2022.  Rogo has a chapter about the possession or obsession of Etta De Camp by Frank Stockton.  It is an excellent account with many details.  I like this book because Rogo also provides a lot of information about James Hyslop which fleshes-out what I previously had known about Hyslop.

In September of 1909 De Camp was receiving communication from Stockton when he communicated to De Camp, “I can make the table move for you.”  On page 83, Rogo quotes a letter that Miss De Camp wrote to Hyslop in which she wrote:

“By the time I had finished speaking the table began to squeak as if someone was trying to move it.

Then it began to rock back and forth towards me.  Finally it began to move slowly at first and then began turning around.  By this time my chair was pushed so near to the screen that, in order not to knock it over, I got up and stood with my hands on the table and it turned around and around as fast as I could move.  By this time I had only one finger on the table and it fairly flew over the rough floor.  I was so excited and delighted with this evidence of a force I could see that I went down and got my mother to come up and see it.  She will testify to that fact.”

Miss De Camp’s mother sent a short statement to Hyslop three days later that she “even saw the table move when her daughter was touching it with a single finger.”

Stockton later communicated to Miss De Camp that “The chair you are in will move too, if you sit quietly in it.  Try it.”

Miss De Camp said she was too tired and that Stockton could move the chair without her in it.  She stood up with the chair in front of her “resting one hand on the knob at the top of the back [of the chair].  It began to move slowly and then suddenly spun around like a top on one of the legs.  The thing which interested me besides the moving of both chair and table was the feeling of lightness of both and the ease with which they moved about.”

I am impressed with D. Scott Rogo’s depth of research and writing style and highly recommend this book even though I haven’t finished it yet!  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 12 Nov, 16:54

Amos, I am familiar with Etta De Camp, at least that part of it involving the Frank Stockton story, but I don’t recall the table or furniture aspect of it.  I’m not sure if your theory would carry over to the force aspect, i.e. does affecting gravity permit the “spirits” to push the object around the house.

D. D. Home spoke of being lifted. As I recall, he said his arms were fully extended over his head and has hands grasped by an invisible agency, at which time he felt an “electrical fulness” under his feet.

Michael Tymn, Fri 11 Nov, 20:45

A slight correction to my last post about Dr. Jean Bayol.  The second quote is of the words of Count Caesar De Vesme, the editor of the publication who had accompanied Bayol to the seance mentioned.

Michael Tymn, Thu 10 Nov, 21:36

It happened to occur to me while reading about Etta De Camp’s experiences with moving furniture that maybe it is not that ‘spirits’ are actually lifting and moving furniture but that they are somehow interfering with the effects of gravity.  If that is the case, it wouldn’t make any difference how much weight was being ‘lifted’ as once gravity was negated, weight would be irrelevant.  Interfering with the effect of gravity seems to me to be something that spirits would be more likely to be able to do rather than actually ‘lifting’ heavy furniture and people. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 10 Nov, 19:16

It appears that “tables” can also sing.  While looking for something else today, I came upon the November 1905 edition of “The Annals of Psychical Science.” Near the end is an article reporting on the death of Dr. Jean Bayol, a French politician and former Governor of the Senegal.  It quotes Bayol, as follows:

“The following is the most remarkable instance of typtology with which I am acquainted; it took place in broad daylight at a seance held for the purpose of investigating the phenomenon of table-rapping, and the facts are confirmed by all those who were present.

“Standing almost two feet away from the table, I sang a few lines of the well-known opera, ‘La Dame Blanche’; and I begged the table to repeat the tune by rhythmic rappings, at the same time preserving exactly the measure of each bar of music. The table forthwith, before the astonished audience, repeated with the utmost precision the tune of ‘La Dame Blanche,’ which I had just been singing.”

Later in the article, Bayol is again quoted, reporting on a seance.  “It must be borne in mind that the sharp rap signified yes,” he is quoted. “For a curious language or code is established, by some means or other, between the spirits of the dead and the living, which enables them, seemingly, to understand one another, strange though it may seem.  However, the contact between the medium and the round table being prolonged they revolved together round the room with incredible violence and rapidity. I would never have imagined that such a noise could have been made, and I still find it a matter of surprise that the furniture was not broken to pieces by the force of the series of concussions it was subjected to.”

Michael Tymn, Thu 10 Nov, 08:10

One of the most spectacular recorded episodes of this nature I’ve come across is found in Colin Wilson’s _Afterlife_ but I’m unable to find my copy so I can’t provide a reference to the original source. (An entire heavyset medium with her flowerpots, as I recall, became an “apport.”)

As Bruce notes, this kind of activity never stopped and continues to this day.  I’ve never witnessed “table tipping” but a close friend has.

If a dead person can produce such feats, I don’t necessarily consider them “low” at all. This could be true in some cases but in others the “spirit” in question might have a very advanced understanding of the nature of physical reality and a good sense of humor, as well.

By what standards are we to judge the “level of illumination” of anyone no longer physically embodied? Who is to say that we, the living, having any true understanding of this?

Bill Ingle, Wed 9 Nov, 16:24

Dear All,
Dancing tables coming from the table rappers, who would have thought such a thing could happen? My experience is with my queen sized bed. The bottom corner of my bed started going up and down for five to eight minutes. The only trouble was that I was not amused as I like my sleep.
This was also in the period I had girlfriends (after the death of my first wife). Girlfriends were terrified to be woken up by dancing beds(not great for any romance) and needed explanations.
Another reason that I was not amused.
Lots of possible reasons (dead not happy etc) for such activity but as I scanned them they seemed to be mischievous spirits (teenagers) which I was able to stop from disturbing me (and my love life).
You might remember that I wasn’t advertising any medium ability so when you get woken up by a terrified girlfriend pointing to the end of the bed going up and down and you are not scared as you know it happens then you get many questions. I then used to explain if the bed starts dancing then don’t worry. If the wardrobe is getting pushed over, then worry.
A funny story was that six months after the dancing bed in a lovely hotel which we were staying the wardrobe door opened and the adjacent door closed. Girlfriend asked what happened? I said little Italian lady came out, abused me and when I told her to go (I was not polite) went off in a huff. It was an old antique wardrobe in a flash 5 star hotel so I suspect it was the former owner of wardrobe.
I liked your mention of the SPR dynamic duo Myers and Gurney visiting Moses. I have a soft spot for Edmund Gurney as his intellect was outstanding.
In my copy of Apparitions and Thought-Transference by Frank Podmore 1907 pxiii I quote:
“To say, however that the following pages owe much to Edmund Gurney is but to acknowledge the obligation which all students of the subject must recognise to his keen and vigorous intellect and his colossal industry. My own debt is a more personal one.”
Dancing tables are great reading. Might be origin for the tables from Disney Beauty and the Beast.
Bruce

Bruce Williams, Wed 9 Nov, 05:31

“The instances in which heavy bodies, such as tables, chairs, sofas, etc. have been moved, when [ D. D. Home] has not been touching them, are very numerous,” Sir William Crookes, a renowned British scientist, wrote in his report, adding that on one occasion a heavy dining table rose between a few inches and 1 and 1/2 feet off the floor, “under special circumstances, which rendered trickery impossible.”  Crookes also reported on one of the sitters being lifted or levitated out of his chair, carried over the table, and then dropped.  However, according to one debunker cited at Wikipedia, the vibrations and moving furniture at the home of Sir William Crookes’s during his investigation of D. D. Home might best be explained by the fact that there were train tracks not far from his home and that the trains passing by caused the movement. Some of the other “tricks” might be explained by Home having holes in his socks and manipulating objects with his toes.

Michael Tymn, Wed 9 Nov, 02:50

Dear Mike,

I think you are correct, again, in your interpretation of ‘low’ as simply of lesser attainment, not necessarily as evil, malignant, malicious. I read something similar, somewhere, but I forget where, probably in Stainton Moses. We have to restructure our whole thinking about how “God works in mysterious ways”. S/He seems to employ any suitable being, and why not? S/He has the right. I think my point that ethics forms only a very small part of most thinking on the matters we discuss after each of your blogs remains true, a fact that gives me cause for regret.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 7 Nov, 23:45

Keith, thanks.  I was going to search for some D. D. Home table phenomena, as well as Slade and the Davenport Brothers, but I was already well over my usual word limit.  I will add some as comments later in the week.

Mike, thanks for the comment.  I guess the question is whether Seth sees them as a spirit phenomenon or as some subconscious activity, or both.

Michael Tymn, Mon 7 Nov, 21:45

Mike
Good blog. I think these pdychokinetic (PK) effects — absurd as they sound —  make sense based on both PK research and within the reality models of both the Seth materials and quantum physics. But I also understand why the average person would dismiss them. You really have to experience them personally to believe them.  That’s true for so many claims. Only direct experience can overcome our normal, “common sense”  view of reality.

Mike Schmicker, Mon 7 Nov, 20:52

Eric, indications are that the low-level spirits controlled the physical phenomena, although being “low-level” does not necessarily mean “evil” spirits.  More advanced spirits were said to be at too high a vibration and had to use lower-level spirits to relay messages on to those on the earth plane. As Imperator communicated, they overestimated the ability of humans to grasp what they were doing and the lower-level spirits distorted too much of what they were trying to do, or words to that effect, and therefore they pulled back. 

Clearly, such an approach would not work today. If some medium claimed that Winston Churchill or Harry Truman was communicating messages through him or her, all designed to save the earth, would anyone believe it?  If it was a “nobody” or some guide known as “Wild Horse,” it would be even more laughable.

Michael Tymn, Mon 7 Nov, 20:47

Thanks for these interesting examples, Michael. I wasn’t familiar with all of them. And there are similar ones; not least young Daniel Dunglas Home was thrown out of his aunt’s house for precisely this problem, which kick started his illustrious career. And Prof Johann Zollner had similar experiences though Henry Slade. I bet others who comment on you columns could also come up with more.

Keith P in England, Mon 7 Nov, 20:13

In a time of deep fake video,when eyes can not be trusted anymore ,I think that the spiritworld is right to stop the dances with tables. With the eaglestory fable ,I wrote from my dreaminspiration ,I think that spirit tries to start with the children and youth.’Learned young, done old’is a flemish phrase. I don’t know why I got such an inspiration ,because someone English speaking person would reach more youngsters.But… You never know what the divine plan has in mind.Maybe more people are working on suchlike messages.
NDE’s are in my opinion a good way to convince some older folks,  but you can not easy reach the masses with that. A fine Disney or Pixar movie could maybe make a difference, but who am I to say that. No one has a wider view on this matter than the divine plan. So let’s wait and see.

Chris, Mon 7 Nov, 18:33

Thanks for the latest blog, Mike!

The question in my mind is: What was planned as the ultimate result of these table movements, apparently intended merely to alert humans to the reality of immortality, and the concomitant reality of other, invisible and intangible, “dwelling places” (universes) in which life continues after Earthly death? I think you, Mike, must be correct in your view that the spirits - high, low, or in between - actually gave up the effort to convince stupid and stubborn humanity of spiritual realities, and so never advanced their revelations of the afterlife’s reality into the areas of ethics and conduct that Stainton Moses deals with, though at tedious Victorian length, in his books. I believe myself that ethics, thought, word, active behaviour, are supremely important, albeit neglected by most of us, and thst the present ethical desert of permissiveness and selfishness shown by the majority of the population has been partly brought about by this refusal by higher spirits to continue their intervention. Mankind has been left to its stupid self. The task of the few of us who, today, care about ethics and the question of whether our lives are pleasing the Great Being is thereby increased in its importance in saving the world from the humanly-inflicted damage we now have to live with. We are assured that for “the elects’” sakes the days of suffering will be shortened. I suspect that with the planet sliding towards the edge of the abyss’s cliff, the COP 27 conference on its way to the expected utter failure, and pleasure-obsessed humanity rushing like lemmings in the same direction, that time is now starting. For once, fundamentalist religious extremists may be right.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 7 Nov, 12:46


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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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