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The Strange & Bizarre of Materialization Further Observed

Posted on 25 February 2013, 8:36

In his 1942 book, Life Now and Forever, Arthur J. Wills, Ph.D., a British-born American civil engineer and architect as well as president of the U.S. College of Psychic Science and Research, wrote that he had observed some two-thousand materializations over his years of research and that perfect or near-perfect representations of the spirit form were very rare.  Most involved varying degrees of imperfection, many of them just two dimensional. 

“Just how the appearances are built up is not known,” he explained. “They appear in various ways.  Some have described the process as analogous to electro-plating, wherein a thin shell is deposited in the mold.  Other cases seem to lack depth, the third dimension, and appear like a print or drawing – flat.  This has given rise to the idea of their being faked.  In other cases they evolve in a more or less complete form and solid to the touch.  On one occasion, a face appeared incomplete.  Perfect in other respects, the face had no eyes, only sockets, and no teeth.  The voice having a hissing sound, the mouth was partly marred as if by the cicatrix of a burn and a small bit of unorganized ectoplasm hung from it.”

Wills recalled one manifestation in which his deceased younger brother appeared, first clean shaven, but then he saw a dark mustache gradually form on his brother’s face. This seems consistent with the explanation in my last blog entry that the spirit entity must visualize what he looked like and project that image into the ectoplasm.  That is, the younger brother remembered at some point that he had a mustache and added it by thought projection. 

While mostly white, the ectoplasm Wills observed was occasionally black, gray, purple and other colors.  “Sometimes the visibility is clear and sharp, at other times hazy,” he wrote.

“The impression to the touch is sometimes moist and cold, sometimes viscous and sticky and more rarely dry and hard.  At times, when a materialized figure has placed its hands on my head, I have observed that the draperies which hung down touching my cheek, were like exceedingly fine soap bubble and I could see the iridescent colouring where the light struck it, such as a soap bubble displays; the touch on the cheek appeared to break some of these minute bubbles, causing a slight crackling as when the hand is thrust into a mass of fine soapsuds, and, on withdrawal of the spirit person, the cheek was wet enough to cause an involuntary wiping off.”

On some occasions, the ectoplasm “was of the nature of thick, heavy white silk, beautifully woven and having considerable body and substance.”  One spirit person invited Wills to examine the robes and Wills observed that there was no seam in it anywhere.  At a sitting with Mrs. E. A. Tomson, in Chicago. a figure appeared clothed in long flowing white robes, after the manner of ancient Greeks.  Wills leaned closer to observe the nature of the stitching.  “Imagine my astonishment as I looked to see this 8-inch side fret pattern become blurred and foggy, and then as the fogginess faded the first pattern had disappeared and in its place was a 5-inch solid border of the same rich purple colour, the whole thing being in movement, billowing and undulating as the figure waved its arms.”

He added that since he was mentally active and keenly interested, measuring mentally the width of the border, noting its colour, studying its construction, etc., he was not in the proper state for hallucination. This took place under adequate red light and with strict controls, including strip searching the medium beforehand and someone sitting on each side of the medium holding each hand. 

“Some figures disappeared into the floor and some, as the head vanished into the floor, held up their hands and waved a farewell as the hands melted into the floor also,” Wills reported.

On one occasion, Wills observed the spirit form come out of the materialization cabinet, pass in front of the medium, who was in a semi-trance outside the cabinet, and when the form was about five feet from the medium he (Wills) attempted to speak to the medium, at which point the spirit form instantly stopped, turned facing the medium and became rigid, looking much like a marble statue.  It was explained to him that in speaking to the medium he was interfering with the vibrations.  As he sat back in his chair and became silent, the spirit form became less rigid and began moving again.

“I speak of spirit forms,” Wills related, “but it must be remembered that spirit, as such, cannot be seen physically. What we see is the form built up by the spirit person, using the ectoplasm from the medium, etc., just as we do not ‘see’ each other, only the temporary physical form in which we are encased and through which we, as spirit entities, become manifest to other physical beings.”

Several months after his wife died during 1929, Wills had one of many sittings with Mrs. Tomson.  “My wife appeared, but I could not recognize her at first, until, just as she returned into the cabinet , she threw a kiss to me and her face was as real and natural as I ever saw it,” he wrote, adding that on the next sitting he took his wife’s silk scarf in a small hand-bag that had belonged to her.  “On appearing this time, she said: ‘What have you got for me?’ I gave her the scarf and she returned to the cabinet, coming out smiling in an instant wearing the scarf around her neck, the ends hanging loosely down, as was her custom.  Turning to the group of sitters she remarked: ‘I love this scarf because it reminds my dear husband of me.’  Then she asked: ‘What’s in your hand?’  I said: ‘Your old hand-bag in which you carried your purse, pencils, papers, etc.’  Taking it, she felt around inside of it, remarking, thoughtfully: ‘I don’t need any of these things now.” After she retired the scarf was found on the floor of the cabinet.”

A week or so later, Wills attended another sitting in which his wife materialized.  She asked him where the scarf was and he told her that he left it at home.  His wife then went into the cabinet and came out an instant later wearing the scarf (or its double) lightly dusted over with ectoplasm.  A few years later, Wills was sitting with another medium, Charlotte Birkner, when his wife materialized.  Hoping that she would appear, Will had brought the scarf along.  He handed it to her at her request; she draped it around her neck, and then disappeared into the cabinet.  The scarf was nowhere to be found, but Wills later discovered it next to his bed at home. 

A few years later, Wills’s wife materialized at a sitting with Minnie Pederson.  Wills told his wife that she forgot her scarf.  “Looking down where the scarf would have been, she began with nervous haste to stroke her hands down as if feeling for it,” Wills recorded, “and, to the amazement of the sitters, there appeared at each stroke a dark maroon streak three inches wide, but she was receding into the cabinet and vanished when the scarf was about three-quarters materialized.  I was so petrified at this unthought-of and instantaneous marvel that I had not presence of mind enough to ask her to stay outside of the cabinet and let us see its completion.” 

As other researchers reported, Wills said that while the medium was the primary source of the ectoplasm, the spirits often obtained it from the sitters. One spirit explained to him that voices did not always sound like the friends or relatives sitting remembered them. “What you call ectoplasm is drawn from the throats of those in the circle to form a new speaking organism,” the spirit entity told him, going on to say that it does not always combine chemically so that they could reproduce the exact tone of the deceased person. As Wills understood, it is much like blood transfusion, where the blood injected must be of the same type as that of the patient to secure the proper effect.  “Once my (deceased) sister came and began to sing a hymn,” Wills recalled.  “I tried to join in and found my throat clogged and she stopped.  She had been drawing on my throat and when I tried to use it, it stopped her singing.”

Because of the ectoplasmic connections between medium, even sitters, and the discarnates, many observers believed it all trickery and some of the mediums studied by Wills were unjustly accused of fraud.  As Wills saw it, too many people were looking for a normal explanation, something that made sense to them. “The stubborn person, whose mind is made up and ‘knows’ that it is all a fake, or obstinate individuals who reject everything that varies from their mistaken preconceptions, these people should not waste their time or other people’s, for they cannot satisfy themselves and hinder or prevent others from progressing.” Wills concluded.  “Vaudeville and circus ‘stunts’ are more suited for their development.”

For more about Arthur J. Wills, see

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. 


Next blog post: March 11


Michael, loved you vitamin C analogy- very funny and to the point.

lee, Fri 29 Mar, 02:09


Let me add to the last comment, which may appear above or below, and say that if you choose to give your true identify, i.e., your full name, instead of hiding behind some pseudonym, I will ask the webmaster to accept your comments.

Michael Tymn, Wed 27 Mar, 14:07


If you take a look at the references for the link you gave, you will see that the very book you mentioned is the primary reference. 

You say that you find it “hard to believe” the egg story.  Is there anything you find easy to believe?  Sure, Laubscher expresses skeptism throughout the book and all of hs books, but so do all psychical researchers.  A person cannot be an objective researcher unless he is to some extent skeptical.  But it is clear to me that Laubscher accepted the spirit hypothesis beyond a reasonable doubt. 

It might surprise you to know that I am a skeptic.  As I have said before, I am only a 98.8% believer in the survival of consciousness, meaning I am a 1.2% percent doubter.  I am suffering from a cold right now and my wife keeps insisting that I load up on Vitamin C.  Even though there is some fairly credible scientific research suggesting a positive correlation between Vitamin C and overcoming or preventing colds, I am highly skeptical, maybe only a 20% believer, but I take the Vitamin C anyway.  What have I got to lose?  If the Vitamin C never works, which I can never be sure of since I should overcome the cold one way or the other, I am not about to launch a campaign to discredit the research.  For one thing, it is not that important to me and for another, I am not qualified to comment on such research.

There are many things I find hard to believe, but when credible people report them over and over again I am not so arrogant to deny them just because I haven’t witnessed them.

You seem to have no difficulty, however, believing the debunker’s side.  For example, on the Bien Boa materialization, which you commented on somewhere, you obviously did not go beyond the debunking manuals to read that the person who claimed to have posed as Bien Boa was exposed as a publicity seeker of some kind.  I don’t recall the reference on this and don’t have the time to search for it, because I know you will reject it anyway.  Read Dr. Richet’s detailed account of Bien Boa and see if you can reconcile Richet’s account with some impostor posing as Bien Boa.  Keep in mind that Richet rejected, at least publicly, the spirit hypothesis.  If you choose to disbelieve, however, it is likely you will continue to disbelieve.

Because it is clear that your mind is made up and because so many people consider you a nuisance that should be shut down, I have asked the webmaster to reject any further comments from you.

Michael Tymn, Wed 27 Mar, 13:58


Interestingly by pure chance I came across an article you wrote on Benard J. F. Laubscher found here:

I find the egg story bizarre and hard to believe.

Your article seems to conclude that Lauscher was a psychic researcher. I have just read a book review of his book Where Mystery Dwells and it says is it a skeptical book of the paranormal and that Lauscher took a psychological approach to mediumship and rejected the spirit hypothesis this is complete opposite of what you have concluded. Have you read Where Mystery Dwells? If you have can you tell me is it a skeptical book or not?

forests, Mon 11 Mar, 01:48

No problem Yvonne - thanks for your response. At least I get some peace assuming your experience was real.
I had couple of very bad experiences with two well-known mental mediums in recent past and finding it very hard to believe in afterlife.

But I desperately want to believe for my deceased father - I’ve no other option.

ArunM, Thu 7 Mar, 01:44


After working her trance mediumship since 1978, (with also the one unique event described above), she had to stop a few years ago due to her age and a major illness.


Yvonne, Wed 6 Mar, 22:53

Hi Yvonne,

Mam - can you please let me know when you experienced the materialization - is it long back? Where and how could I contact the medium you mentioned in your post.
Believe me I’ve some compelling reason to contact an authenticate medium?

ArunM, Wed 6 Mar, 02:48

The most vivid spirit manifestation close to what I would call a “materialization” was the spirit of my deceased husband.
As a person on earth, he was very strong willed and was quite a material person. I don’t know if that had something to do with it. 
Unfortunately, the medium did not let the process continue to it finality because she was unfamiliar with the strong feeling she had while it was going on….she looked as if she was being drained - she said it felt very strange…while apparently he was using her energy/ectoplasm/perispirit, etc. (although she acknowledged she knew who it was and his spirit had communicated through her while she was in trance and they had been good friends)
The process began…. starting from the appearance of his head….slowly his body appeared going down, down and down. The process got as far as his waist.
I saw him like he was right there, clear as a bell…and when the medium rejected the process…
it immediately disappeared. Others in the room were also mediums and could see him.
Upon thinking of it now, it appears to be in the category below:
“Just how the appearances are built up is not known,” he explained. “They appear in various ways…Other cases seem to lack depth, the third dimension, and appear like a print or drawing – flat.” 

By the way, I love the statement below!
“I speak of spirit forms,” Wills related, “but it must be remembered that spirit, as such, cannot be seen physically. What we see is the form built up by the spirit person, using the ectoplasm from the medium, etc., [whether a person is aware of it or not, I might add] just as we do not ‘see’ each other, only the temporary physical form in which we are encased and through which we, as spirit entities, become manifest to other physical beings.”

Boy, you created quite a ruckus with that last article!

Keep up the great work!

Yvonne Limoges, Thu 28 Feb, 23:20

Thanks Mike for bringing this little-known book and Arthur Wills’ research to light.  The sight of a full-form materialization disappearing into the floor and holding up their hands to wave farewell must have been quite the experience for Wills!  I wonder whether Wills’ book was published during his lifetime?  Interestingly, it was published in the same year as T.G. Hamilton’s Intention and Survival (Macmillan, 1942). For those interested in biographical information about Wills, check out:

Walter Meyer zu Erpen, Wed 27 Feb, 09:30

Some of the information reminds me of an event I experienced with one of Tim’s materializations, which occurred on an astral level just touching the physical:

  “Something white was scattered around Tim’s feet. It appeared to be a kind of white powder, which at first I thought was sugar. I saw what looked like broken glass and wondered if Tim had dropped a container of this substance. It was sparkly and glittered like fireflies, and there was quite a lot of it lying in little piles on the floor. I could see little flecks of light twinkling within this substance. Touching it caused it to crackle and pop, its reaction when coming in contact with my body—physical, etheric, or astral body, I can’t say at this point. I intuited that this substance was largely involved with Tim being able to materialize to the point where we could see and feel each other—not entirely on the low physical plane where I inhabit my earth body but as close to it as possible, on just the other near side of light sleep. ...

  “Tim informed me that there were many individuals who were involved in this experiment, including Risen Researchers and Healer-Scientists from more than one astral level. Obviously Tim and I had each manifested in more than one particular physical way. There was liberal use of the sparkly stuff—a form of ectoplasmic matter that was specially fabricated by the Risen technologists involved in this experiment. Ectoplasm, as noted before, is a highly sensitive and sometimes volatile substance, which occurs naturally in varying amounts in all of us, but to a greater extent in mediums. The Risen have been utilizing their technology in many ways to express and impress their presences upon our physical plane. Sources suggest that Risen techno
  logists have been experiment-ing with ectoplasm for at least two earth centuries and perhaps much longer. Advanced Risen techniques of chemistry, physics, and other sciences are involved, which are unknown and inaccessible on earth.” (The Risen, pp. 263 & 266)

August Goforth, Tue 26 Feb, 22:36

As anybody tried touhing the materializations?

Llewellyn James, Tue 26 Feb, 07:49

Fascinating and illuminating, Mike.  Thanks.

Stafford Betty, Tue 26 Feb, 02:15

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