Saturday, January 24

He Witnessed Flashes Of Electricity Shoot Forth From The Mediums Body

Eusapia Palladino seance
A séance with medium Eusapia Palladino
It seems that mediums usually cause controversy. Though some will praise them and their powers, others will call them fraudulent and say they prey on the vulnerable. I was reminded about this while doing some research on Eusapia Palladino, who was investigated by several European, English and American researchers and scientists.

The first real mention of Eusapia was by the Neapolitan Professor Dr Ercole Chiaia. He was so impressed with her powers that he sent an open letter to the psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso challenging him to test her prowess. On 9 August 1888 he wrote:

"The case I allude to is that of an invalid woman who belongs to the humblest class of society. She is nearly thirty years old and very ignorant; her appearance is neither fascinating nor endowed with the power which modern criminologist call irresistible; but when she wishes, day or night, she can divert a curious group for an hour or so with the most surprising phenomena.

Eusapia Palladino
Either bound to her seat, or firmly held by the hands of the curious, she attracts articles of furniture which surround her, lifts them up, holds them suspended in the air like Mahomet's coffin, and makes them come down again with undulatory movements, as if they were obeying her will. She increases their height or lessens it according to her pleasure.

She raps or taps upon walls, the ceiling, the floor, with fine rhythm and cadence. In response to the requests of the spectators something like flashes of electricity shoot forth from her body, and envelop her or enwrap the spectators  of these marvellous scenes,

She draws upon cards that you hold out, everything that you want - figures, signatures, numbers, and sentences - by just stretching out her hand towards the indicated place.

This woman rises in the air, no matter what bands tie her down. She seems to lie upon the empty air, as on a couch, contrary to all the laws of gravity; she plays on musical instruments - organs, bells, tambourines - as if they had been touched by her hands or moved by the breath of invisible gnomes. This woman can at times increase her stature by more than four inches."

Obviously the guy was impressed! Lombroso was also impressed when he visited Eusapia. He wrote:

"Eusapia's feet and hands were held by Professor Tamburini and myself. A hand-bell placed on a small table more than a yard distant from Eusapia sounded in the air above the heads of the sitters and then descended on the table. While the bell was ringing we struck a match and saw the bell in the air."

Lambroso also wrote of his convictions of what he had witnessed in the Annales des Sciences Pschiques in 1882.

All well and good but then came claims of trickery by other investigators. They said Eusapia cheated if not properly controlled - but could still produce some incredible effects.

One sceptic, Everard Fielding, said:

"I have seen hands and heads come forth, from behind the curtain of an empty cabinet. I have been seized by living fingers. I have seen this extraordinary woman sitting visible outside the curtain, held hand and foot by my colleagues, immobile."

As with most cases it's the disbelievers that appear to have the final verdict. Wikipedia, for example writes: "Magicians and skeptics who evaluated her claims concluded that none of her phenomena was genuine and she was a clever trickster."

As to whether she was genuine, I don't know. In all honesty I have to say that, as yet, I have never witnessed a medium that I can say is definitely 100% convincing. It's the same with clairvoyants. I wrote a post back in 2010 stating Clairvoyants Just Can't Read Me. And yet, despite this, I don't rule out such powers. Like with the upcoming UK elections, I'm an 'undecided' but I probably do know where I will put my 'X' when pushed to decide.

Oh yes, I didn't mention that Eusapia Palladino was born in southern Italy on 21 January 1854,but was orphaned and taken to Naples where she grew up. As a young girl she is said to have levitated when at a seance she attended.

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  1. No argument here - I've seen things I can't explain.

    I went back and read your post, "Clairvoyants Just Can't Read Me," how very interesting. I've never experienced any success either. The comments on the post were very interesting as well.

    Hope your weekend is nice.

    1. I've seen and heard strange things as well which I can't explain.

  2. I think I'm one of the skeptics! That said, as a young kid, my friends and I loved to scare each other at slumber parties by having seances, playing with the Ouija board and such things.

    1. I tried the Ouija board, ages ago with friends, and it spelt out some interesting stuff at first But suddenly it turned nasty and obscene so we stopped.

  3. Mediumship in the 1800s and at the turn of the 20th century was riddled with trickery. These days, at lest from what I've seen, mediums tune in on the dead and the days of cabinets and curtains are just history. Check out Cassadaga, Fl, a community of Spiritualists.

  4. Anonymous15:04

    The problem is that Palladino confessed to trickery. She was caught many times releasing her feet from control under the séance table. I really don't think any of her phenomena was difficult to explain - with her hands and feet free she could move objects or tables with ease.