The New Motor

views updated

The New Motor

A strange machine constructed in 1854 by Spiritualist medium John Murray Spear in association with another medium, Charles Hammond, at the instigation of the "Association of Electricizers," one of the bands of spirits by whom he was controlled. The motor was to derive its motive power from the magnetic store of nature and was therefore to be independent of artificial sources of energy, like the human body. The machine was hailed as the "physical saviour of the race," and the "new messiah." Mrs. Alonzo Newton, wife of one of Spear's collaborators, obeyed a vision by going to High Rock, Lynn, Massachusetts, where the new motor was located, and for two hours suffering "birth-pangs," whereby she judged that the essence of her spiritual being was imparted to the machine.

At the end of that time it was claimed that pulsations were apparent in the motor. Newton continued to act as nurse to the contraption for several weeks, but the only observed movements seemed to be a slight oscillation of some of the metal balls that adorned it. One disappointed Spiritualist complained that the new motor could not even turn a coffee mill. Andrew Jackson Davis visited the new motor at High Rock and expressed the belief that the design was the work of spirits of a mechanical turn of mind, but that the machine was of no practical value.

The new motor was finally smashed by a mob at Randolph, New York, where it had been taken. In all it cost its builder some two thousand dollars. In common fairness to the Spiritualists it must be said that Spear was widely recognized as a kind and honest man who had championed many liberal reforms. His earlier experience of spirit messages was remarkable, resulting in a healing ministry. It seems that he was deceived by misleading communications from "the Association of Electricizers" (which supposedly included the spirit of Benjamin Franklin).

It is possible that the new motor may have suggested a line of research to John Worrell Keely (1837-1898), who claimed the discovery of a new motive force in his invention of the Keely motor. This force was said to be a "vibratory etheric force" or cosmic energy. After the death of Keely, evidence of fraud was revealed.

From time to time since the new motor fiasco, Spiritualists have constructed various apparatus to facilitate communication with the spirit world, sometimes basing their constructions on spirit messages. Among modern inventors who were more successful than Spear were those comprising the group known as the Ashkir-Jobson Trianion, ca. 1930, who built various apparatus that seemed to work. The psychotherapist Wilhelm Reich also claimed the discovery of a cosmic motor force in what was termed orgone energy.

(See also Communigraph )