Wriedt, Etta (ca. 1859-1942)
Wriedt, Etta (ca. 1859-1942)
American professional direct voice medium who charged a nominal fee of one dollar for a successful séance. She never sat in a cabinet, did not pass into trance, and often joined in the conversation of the voices with the visitors.
Admiral Usborne Moore, author of The Voices (1913), heard three voices talking at once, one in each ear, and one through the trumpet. Wriedt only spoke English, but the voices knew no linguistic limitation. On occasion Dutch, French, Spanish, Norwegian, and Arabic were heard.
Wriedt's spirit control was an entity called "Dr. John Sharp," who claimed that he was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in the eighteenth century, lived most of his life in the United States as an apothecary farmer, and died in Evansville, Indiana. He took great care of the medium—often at the nervous or psychic expense of the sitters. Moore found the strain on his system so great while sitting with the medium in Detroit that he did not recover his normal health until more than six weeks later.
Wriedt paid five visits to England. She came the first time in 1911, at the age of 51, on the invitation of W. T. Stead, and held séances at Julia's Bureau. In 1912 and 1913, the arrangements for her visits were made by Moore, and in 1915 and 1919 she sat chiefly in Rothesay, Scotland.
E. K. Harper, W. T. Stead's secretary, recorded nearly 200 sittings with Wriedt. She often heard the direct voice in daylight. There were other features to the séance, such as luminous forms gliding about the room in the darkness. Sometimes dogs materialized and barked.
The spirit control "John King" claimed responsibility for the physical phenomena in England. Flowers were taken from vases and placed in the hands of sitters in the dark in different parts of the room. Invisible fingers touched the sitters and rapped by the trumpet to urge a hesitating person to answer promptly when spoken to. Luminous discs were seen to move inside the circle. The sitters were often sprinkled with drops of water, felt wafts of cool air, and saw heavy objects displaced.
From the spirit world, "W. T. Stead," who died in the Titan-tic tragedy, frequently communicated and gave many particulars of his passing over. He said that he was struck on the head when the Titanic sank and never felt the actual sensation of drowning.
Wriedt could clairvoyantly read names "written up," as she put it, in the dark. Once a name met with no recognition. Suddenly "John King's" voice broke the silence: "You had better clear out, my friend, nobody knows you." Moore was greeted by the voice of "Grayfeather," the Native American control of the medium J. B. Jonson of Detroit, who had never manifested before through Wriedt.
The psychical researcher William F. Barrett heard voices simultaneously with Wriedt. "Professor Henry Sidgwick" came through. Barrett stated:
"Mrs. Wriedt doubtless had heard his name, but he died before she visited England, and I doubt if she, or many others who knew him by name, were aware that he stammered badly. So I asked the voice 'Are you all right now?' not referring to his stammering. Immediately the voice replied 'You mean the impediment in my speech, but I do not stutter now' … I went to Mrs. Wriedt's séances in a somewhat skeptical spirit, but I came to the conclusion that she is a genuine and remarkable medium, and has given abundant proof to others besides myself that the voices and the contents of the messages given are wholly beyond the range of trickery or collusion."
Chedo Miyatovich, a Serbian diplomat and member of several learned societies, sat with Wriedt in the company of a Croatian lawyer friend, H. Hinkovitch, who had just arrived in London. Voices of deceased friends and relatives spoke to them in Serbian, Croatian, and at a later séance in German when Margarette Selenka of Germany was present.
An attempt to discredit Wriedt's phenomena was made in Christiania in August 1912, by one Professor Birkenhead and state chemist L. Schmelck. They averred that the noises in the trumpet were caused by lycopodium, a mildly inflammable powder used by druggists to coat pills. Other chemists held the report up to ridicule, and it became known that Birkenhead was extremely deaf and could not judge voices at all.
Wriedt died in Detroit, Michigan, September 13, 1942.
Wyllie, Edward (1848-1911)
Spirit photographer. He was psychic from his childhood, which was spent in Calcutta. He served in the Maori War in New Zealand with the rank of captain and settled in California in 1886 as a photographer. Spots and lights threatened to ruin his business until a lady, who had heard of spirit photography, examined his plates and suggested this explanation.
The Pasadena [California] Society for Psychical Research investigated the case on November 27, 1900, in Los Angeles. Their report stated: "As a committee we have no theory, and testify only to that which we do know. Individually we differ as to probable causes, but unanimously agree concerning the palpable facts." The committee promised $25 to any Los Angeles photographer who by trick or skill could produce similar results under similar conditions.
The early scene of Wyllie's psychic photography was Sycamore Grove, near Los Angeles. He had to move from there as the psychic "extras" obtained were dissolute-looking men and women. It was suggested as an explanation that about 50 years earlier the place had been the scene of wild orgies. The authorities stamped them out, but the evil influences apparently clung to the place.
Wyllie was accused by P. A. Jensen in The Progressive Thinker of producing his spirit faces by superimposing a prepared negative. The basis of the charge was that a suspicious negative had been found in a house where Wyllie had been. But according to James Coates in Photographing the Invisible (1911), Jensen had not been able to produce a single case where the negative in question had been used.
Another charge was raised by a Dr. Woillard. He said that Wyllie, for a fee, taught him how to take spirit pictures. His method was to hold in the hollow of his arched hand a photo prepared with luminous paint, and to keep it over plates in the darkroom previous to exposure. He said that he found two such miniatures prepared with India ink and luminous paint and also that Wyllie had confessed.
As well as being a spirit photographer, Wyllie was credited with powers of psychometry. He could obtain photographic "extras" through the influence of objects. James Coates sent him locks of his and his wife's hair. Two human heads were obtained on a photograph and one was recognized as Mrs. Coates' grandmother. It was as a result of this experiment that Wyllie was invited to England. Coates gave the following summary of his experiments:
"About 60 percent of the photographs taken exhibited psychic extras, and 25 percent of these were identified as those of departed persons. To all the subjects Mr. Wyllie was a complete stranger, and of the origins of the psychic extras or portraits he could have no knowledge; and except in the cases where flow-ers—roses and lilies—were produced there was a marked absence of symbolism in the photographs taken."