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Indridi Indridason: The Amazing Icelandic Medium

Posted on 28 December 2015, 7:52

D. D. Home is often referred to as the greatest physical medium on record, at least the greatest one since Jesus of Nazareth.  But Home may have to relinquish his top spot to Indridi Indridason of Iceland now that we have a record of his phenomena set forth in English by Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur R. Gissurarson in their book, Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, released recently by White Crow Books.

Born in 1883, the son of a farmer, Indridi (below) was a printer’s apprentice who discovered his mediumistic ability in late 1904 or early 1905, after attending a mediumistic circle at the home of a relative.  When he took his seat, a table reacted violently and when he got home a table there moved violently around the room.  Initially, he was frightened by his ability, but he gradually came to accept it and develop it, his mediumship being at its height in 1909.  He died in 1912, at age 28, after a three-year battle with typhoid fever and tuberculosis.


During his four to five years of mediumship, Indridi was studied and observed by many members of the Experimental Society of Reykjavik, later called the Icelandic Society for Psychical Research. The phenomena reported by the Society included materialization of human forms, dematerializations (Indridi’s arm disappearing), levitations of both Indridi and furniture, direct writing (a pencil writing without a visible hand), automatic writing, direct voice (voices independent of the medium and others in the room), trance voice (voices coming through the entranced medium), musical instruments floating in the room and giving off music, apports, and poltergeist-type activity (shelves being torn from the wall, tables overturned, etc.).  Although Indridi spoke only Icelandic and knew only a few words of Danish, “spirit communicators” came through in various other languages, including Danish, Norwegian, French, Dutch, and English.  A deceased French woman often sang at the séances – sometimes using Indridi’s vocal cords and at other times using the independent voice – with just the right enunciation, while those in attendance who understood French spoke with her.  At times, the researchers could hear two voices singing simultaneously – the soprano voice of the French woman and the bass voice of a man. 

The researchers included a number of distinguished Icelandic scientists and scholars.  The detailed minutes left behind by these researchers make it clear that they were very much aware of the need for strictly controlled conditions in studying the phenomena. They strip-searched the medium, had “watchers” holding his hands and legs, had him surrounded by a large net, attached phosphorescent tape to him and various objects, and carried out their study behind locked doors. 

“Oh, see me and me. . .  You are there below with the body,” Indridi was quoted after going into trance early in his mediumship.  “The body is not me.  I am up here.  There are two Indridis.  Oh, is it not strange to see the nerve [cord], which lies between me and me!  The lips of the body move and they say what I say.  The nerve becomes thinner, the further away I am from my body.”

Indridi’s primary spirit control was identified as Konrad Gislason, the brother of his paternal grandfather, who had died in 1891 after a career as a professor of Icelandic and Nordic Studies in Copenhagen.  During an early sitting with Indridi, the researchers reported a sofa “carried around the séance room by invisible powers, while Indridi lay prostrate upon it,” apparently in a trance state. Speaking through Indridi’s lips, Gislason invited the sitters to stand and inspect the sofa, which was at the height of their chests and to confirm that nothing was holding it up, which they did before the sofa slowly moved down to the floor.  On another occasion, it was reported that Indridi floated over their heads while seated in a wicker chair.

On November 24, 1905, a “spirit” introducing himself as “Mr. Jensen,” unknown to anyone present, communicated and stated that a fire was raging in a factory in Copenhagen (more than 1,300 miles from Reykjavik).  It took a month before news of this fire reached Iceland, but the date and time were consistent with the communication from Jensen.

While the researchers observed some phenomena, including tables moving about during daylight and also observed some phenomena under red light, they discovered that light, even red light, resulted in diminished phenomena.  They would often strike a match to momentarily observe what was going on.  It was noted that light caused Indridi much pain while he was in the trance state.

Dr. Gudmundur Hannesson, a professor of medicine and twice president of the University of Iceland, was highly skeptical when he first sat with Indridi in 1908, but he gradually came to the conclusion that there was no magic or trickery involved. He reported that after Indridi fell into a trance, voices came from all over the room, and that they had their own unique characteristics, each one speaking in its own way.  “They reply unreservedly when spoken to; sometimes humorously, sometimes solemnly, just according to the individual inclination of each one,” Hannesson recorded.  “We may happen to converse with a humorist making fun of everything; or a deceased clergyman may raise his voice and say a pathetic prayer.  It is, however, quite common that the voices of those appearing for the first time are hardly intelligible but gradually become plainer as time goes on.”

While certain that fraud was not involved, Hannesson said he could not bring himself to believe in what he had witnessed. “It is not easy for unbelieving people to accept the theory that inanimate things move about without any natural causes,” he wrote.  He added that he didn’t see much point in discussing what the “spirits” had to say about their living conditions, since proof could not be offered, but he did say that the communicating spirits retained their personality and their happiness was according to their desserts, differing a great deal in each individual case.  While he felt that most of what they described would be acceptable to Christian people, there was also much that clashed with church teachings. 

Apparently, Indridi was not immune to low-level and mischievous spirits. On one occasion, as he was sleeping in an experimental house, he was dragged head first along the floor as two other men attempted to restrain the invisible force pulling him by holding on to his legs. The following night two chairs and a large book were thrown across the room by an entity identified as Jon Einarsson.  The next morning, as Indridi was dressing, he was flung down on his bed and a bowl thrown at him.  As reported by Brynjolfur Thorlaksson, Indridi was putting on his trousers when he screamed for help. “I ran into the bedroom to him,” Thorlaksson wrote.  “But then I saw a sight that I shall never forget.  Indridi was floating horizontal in the air, at about the height of my chest, and swaying there to and fro, with his feet pointing towards the window, and it seems to me that the invisible power that was holding him in the air was trying to swing him out of the window.”  Thorlaksson then grabbed Indridi’s legs and found himself being lifted with Indridi, until a third person ran in the room and helped hold them both down.  Soon thereafter, Indridi’s spirit controls found a way to control Jon, an angry spirit who had committed suicide.
In spite of the reports by the various researchers, scientists who had not been part of the research group, the press, and religious leaders scoffed, certain there had to be some trickery involved, even though they could not understand it, or it was the work of the devil.  More than a hundred years later, nothing has changed.  The scoffs and guffaws are much the same.  Although physical mediumship does not seem to be as prominent as it was 100 to 150 years ago – probably because of all the distractions and “noise” we now have in our lives – there are still some physical mediums producing somewhat similar phenomena, although perhaps not as dynamic as those given off by Home and Indridason. 

For the open-minded person, this story of Indridi Indridason should add to the reports by other credible researchers involving other physical mediums and perhaps convince him or her that there really is something to such mediumship, as mind-boggling as it might be.

Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium by Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur R. Gissurarson is published by White Crow Books.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  January 11

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