Chemical Phenomena (in Séances)
Chemical Phenomena (in Séances)
Psychic phenomena of a chemical nature have often been reported to occur in séance rooms. Psychic light is one of the strangest chemical manifestations as it is cold, and its production defies human ingenuity.
Some alleged examples of chemical phenomena include: instances where blood was drawn without a break in the skin; during materialization, ozone and phosphorus were often smelled and fully materialized phantoms exhaled carbon dioxide; a lead whistle often melted during sittings with Frau Silbert; phantoms dissolved into a cloud of smoke or black vapor in the house of Charles L. Tweedale; Admiral Moore's ink in his bottle was changed to dirty water in a séance with the Bangs sisters; and in a sitting with David Duguid the color of a glass of water changed to the hue of wine and tasted as bitter as gall.
The book Supramundane Facts in The Life of The Rev. J. Babcock Ferguson (1865), edited by T. Nichols, states that the little daughter of J. B. Ferguson, under a strange spell, ordered a clean tea cup and a silver spoon. She commenced stirring the spoon in the empty cup and subjected it, after a time, to the observation of each person present. Then, returning to the center of the room in about five minutes, she presented the cup with over a teaspoonful of dark and odorous ointment with which she anointed the face of a gentleman of the house. He was suffering from neuralgia and professed to have received immediate relief.
Tosie Osanami, a Japanese medium who died in 1907, was famous for similar medical miracles. According to a statement by Wasaburo Asano, a Japanese researcher, quoted by Harry Price in Psychic Research (a journal of the American Society for Psychical Research) in 1928, she produced liquid medicine within empty glass bottles:
"Her patients would come and ask for medicine and present their own bottles. These bottles she would place in front of her family shrine. She would then kneel down before it and offer up prayers according to the Shinto rites for about ten minutes. When the prayers were ended the patients would see the bottles spontaneously fill with liquids of different colors according to the nature of the malady. Red, blue and orange were the most usual colors of these medicinal apports …. Accused of being a swindler, she was tried in the District Court of Kobe. In court, however, before the judge and jury she succeeded in producing a brown liquid in an empty bottle that had been sealed previously by the court. Speechless with astonishment, the court acquitted her."
In the case of Mary Jobson, water sprang up unaccountably through the floor and was sprinkled in the room. Previously a voice was heard calling upon the angels to perform the demonstration.
Such water sprinkling is frequently observed in poltergeist cases. Thomas P. Barkas published an account of interesting observations in the British newspaper Newcastle Chronicle in 1874. He witnessed water production in a private séance circle in both the dark and the daylight. During the séance a plan-chette and the surface of the table were covered, in less than a minute, by water drops. He placed his hat, crown downward near the center of the table and placed a sheet of clean paper in the hat. In three minutes it was found covered with water-drops. Another time, he and his fellow experimenters tried the height at which the water fell by holding a large piece of paper at an elevation. Drops fell under the paper only until it was lowered eighteen inches. At that height they formed on the sheet. The experiment took place in broad daylight.
Seven sitters of Mme. L. Ignath fervently prayed, on the control 's instruction, before a picture of the Madonna of Sixtin, after which tears appeared in the eyes of the portrait and ran down the painted cheeks (Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie, June 1932).
Reports of chemical phenomena in séance rooms must be treated with caution. A smell like phosphorus may indeed indicate the presence of that chemical, but it may have been introduced by a fake medium. The true facts of some of the remarkable phenomena claimed in cases from past history may never be found, and skepticism should be used in measuring past claims in light of modern experiment and investigation.