WHEN ECTOPLASM WAS CALLED ‘SPIRIT-CLOTH’…
At the time of American Settlement, the largest and most widespread spiritual movement of the Western World began. And it took its course there until today. It was the events in 1848 in the home of the Fox family becoming the start shot for the movement. In their household communicates the first time (at least in the current version, in the Davenport house in Buffalo the manifestations already began in 1846) – in the already enlightened West – people with ‘spirits’. These first events were accompanied by strong physical manifestations, namely knocking sounds (later ‘raps’), about which the ‘spirits’ obviously communicated. Although no ectoplasm occurred here yet, the connection with the mysterious knocking noise leads to an intense press resonance. It was reported on the incidents nationwide and left the big impression on the reader.
Within the following years, a mediumistic-spiritualistic movement was being formed. And very soon, there were thousands of ‘mediums’ who acted as ‘mediators’ between the spirit worlds – now newly discovered in the West – and theirs. In the following years, in addition to the knocking noises, a phletora of other physical phenomena occurred, which were regularly observed and described, so that very soon science became interested in the phenomena. In addition to “extrasensory” (like clairvoyance) or “mental” mediumistical phenomena, this included the movement of objects in a distance without a visible cause, the (auto-)levitation (elevation of objects or the medium), the penetration of matter (materialization of objects or apports, objects that appeared in the experimental room), the later called ectoplasm, then called ‘spirit-cloth’ and the materialization of spirits – partially or in full.
‘Materializations’ usually meant the gradual increase in density of the spirits. In séances, sitters started to sense and see hands and hand-like forms. Then they were touched by them and complete spirit-forms showed themselves “materialized” in the invocation ceremonies of this young movement – in the séances of the west. Very soon, this “material” out of which the spirits were built, but also seemed to be enwrapped in, became the later ectoplasm, a focal point of the flaring interest.
Already in the earliest séances of the 1860s the substance in question appeared, which was called simply “spirit cloth”, spirit fabric (in the sense of a clothing material), and which had from the start enigmatic qualities. Large amounts of the material appeared around the mediums, enlarging and contracting at will. Sometimes it seemed to flow out of their bodies. Sometimes the manifestations were misty, but sometimes like gauze, especially when the “spirits” were covered by it.
|Famous Materialization Medium William Eglinton and an early stage of one of his Full Form Materializations…
A session with an early English medium, where the movement arrived in the 1870s, was described by one observer as follows: “With a strange gesture the medium suddenly produces a strange mass under his dressing gown. Next to the chair on which it sits, it first sinks to the ground and then grows into a pillar that sways slowly from right to left. With another movement, the pillar suddenly becomes a living figure, which immediately runs towards those present and sits down at their table. It is the “child guide” of the medium. It’s an eleven-year-old boy who, still enclothed in this weird white muslin (white linen), eagerly pursuing what’s going on with us …! “(From Farmers” Twixt two Worlds “, 1874, Medium William Eglinton).
THE EARLY PARAPSYCHOLOGY
With the establishment of a new interdisciplinary science (involved are several science directions) that would delve into these phenomena and the sometimes unbelievable accounts of the most extraordinary spirit manifestations, they did also join forces to prove this substance. The young Parapsychology – or Parapsychophysics – was born. The Russian State Council in Berlin, Alexander Aksakov, had already written a comprehensive essay, later published as a book, on the occurrence of materialization during the first 30 years of the US movement. With accurate references to every single source, he describes the “materialization” of entire spirit-personalities in many early North American séances – in part witnessed by very critical observers.
His book “Animism and Spiritism” was in so far a forerunner of his own upcoming work with the English materialization medium Elizabeth Hope (d “Esperance) in Gothenburg, Sweden. Aksakov was able, as before the Nobel laureate and discoverer of thallium, pioneer of the modern television age, William Crookes, to photograph mediumistically manifested beings. The first objective bodies of proof were thus given. With Hope he could often ban the materialized spirit forms on celluloid simultaneously with the medium and other spectacular phenomena (Light and Shadow, E.d “Ésperance 1886).
|First photo taken of a spirit materialization by Nobel prize laureat Prof. William Crooks with the medium Florence Cook…
ECTOPLASM OR TELEPLASM
In 1905, the French physicist and Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet, together with Gabriel Delanne, followed an invitation to Algier. The wife of the well-known French General Noel had already published her experiences with a young medium in the second year. Richet’s subsequent observations in the “Villa Carmen” became parapsychological history. In a garden pavilion, a custom-built séanceroom was experimented with and a personality who was to hold the scholars of Europe in suspense for the next 20 years, Marthe Béraud (later Eva C./Eva Carriere).
The fiancée of the son of the Noel family made incredible manifestations. While she was visibly seated in the cabinet for everyone, the mystery play of “ghost materialization” was unleashed. The Cabinet is a separated area of the Séanceroom, which serves to recharge ethereal energies. Partly from the floor upwards, spontaneously forming figures grew and were wrapped in large masses of white material. Richet observed this in a manner that he knew from cell plasma in microbiology under the microscope. When cells act under the magnifying glass, connect with each other, merge and divide again during cell division, movement patterns emerge, which Richet recognized in the séanceroom.
The white mass surrounding the mediumistical processes in Algiers moved across the ground and acted just as the cells in microbiology did. In order to prove the reality of experimental spirit materialization, Richet and Delanne even performed the barite breath test (chemical test for carbon monoxide) with the Brahmin “Bien Boa” materialized by Marthe. Prof. Crookes had done the same before with the ôexperimental spirit figure “Katie King” (heart rate measurement). Prof. de Goes later with materialized spirits of the medium Carlos Mirabelli (eg the medical examination of a materialized girl). From 1906 then the term “ectoplasm” was introduced into the parapsychological discussion (at times also “teleplasma”). The word originating from microbiology means “forming in the outside”. From then on it was the subject of passionate discussions about the most spectacular phenomena of Western spirituality.
In England, the movement increasingly concentrated on so-called “survival evidence”. And subsequently, it was demanded by the institutionalized movement that any mediums performance should revolve around this question. The supposed “survival proofs” were seen more clearly in the mental achievements of the mediums, and physical phenomena were pushed to the edges of the movement. Although the deceased repeatedly “materialized”, as the “survivalists” demanded, who had taken control of European spiritualism in the meantime. In comparison, however, this happened too seldom to prevail against the mentally transmitted “afterlife messages”. These soon became the subject of every stage demonstration. Meanwhile, the experimental spirit materialization as “premier class” of Western spiritualism much less often happened and were observable only with the strongest mediums.
The cause for the desire for the “message from over there” was above all the mass loss of human life during the First and Second World Wars. This allowed the survivalist (Survival) faction within the movement to strengthen. Almost everyone and every family has been confronted with death in one way or another. The desire in a mediums session to receive the proof of a survival not only of the soul but of one’s whole personality was too seductive for the ego within the now-growing mass movement. From now on, all that was left in the mediums work was news of the deceased. They reported surviving their death and how they did in an even more beautiful “afterlife”.
A similar informal isolation is happening in the near-death- or after-death-state ‘market’. It is also deliberately or unconsciously controlled by the ego fading out contrary information than ‘the afterlife is beautiful’. The fear about what may lay behind the veil is powerful! But only in spiritualism other mediumistic branches than ‘survivalism’ were pro-actively invalidated. In the work with grieving parents, in contrast survivalism and the channeled news from the deceased children proved to be emotionally very helpful. From then on, however, many mediums whose repertoire originally included objective spirit manifestations suppressed them and concentrated, at least in public, exclusively on messages of “survival proofs”.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Behind the scenes, however, with the physical phenomena of mediumship it was continued to be experimented with in exclusive circles. There were spirit manifestations of all classes. Spirits operated as potentials of a supernatural ceremonial event. In addition to ectoplasm-based partial and full materializations, these included object-materializations and apports (object penetration into and out of locations and formation of matter from apparent nothingness, possibly also based on the substance called ectoplasm), light phenomena, paranormal sounds and voices, changes in the physiology of the mediums (elongation or change in height), levitation of objects, mediums and sitters and “healings by the spirits”.
Just the “Spiritual Healing” was in North American early spiritualism also known to be with spirits of a very different nature in connection. Early settlers seeking healing and church missionaries had already met these in Native American ceremonies. In them they manifested palpably, visibly and audibly. Helper spirits, nature spirits, animal spirits and the spirits of famous medicine men and the tribal elders. The Native American healing ceremonies had a great influence on the early movement in North America. Most of the early mediums working at that time had Native American “Spirit Guides” to help the mediums to accomplish in the young movement.
In Germany, too, a completely different form of experimental “parapsychophysics” emerged. It had a great influence on the approach of neighboring countries, such as Austria, France, Poland, Denmark and Sweden. However, only as long as Germany did not lose all influence and before the Nazis had got rid of all involved personalities and had operated the genocide on the European population. After 1945, traditional English spiritualism began to take over regency in Europe. By then it had established itself as a recognized alternative religion in UK and parts of the states. To this day thousands of Spiritualist Churches have been founded there.
In the period from 1903 to 1933, however, on the mainland “experimental mediumship”, the pragmatic German approach, was very widespread. Here, mediums were by no means forced to provide any survival evidence. They worked experimentally open with their “Spirit Guides” for any conceivable result. Of course, there were also those mediums and circles that were more spiritualistic/survivalistically oriented. Depending on the understanding of the respective experimenters, the results were generally idealy according to.
In mainland Europe, mediums that were able to produce the above-mentioned manifestations, unlike necessarily in the UK at the time, were at the center of public interest! The manifestations were summed up under the bulky generic term physical mediumship, which has been retained to this day. Baron Albert Freiherr von Schrenck-Notzing began his parapsychological epoch-making work with Marthe Béraud (pseudonyms Eva C., Eva Carriere) and Stanislava P .. Strictly scientifically proven phenomena with ectoplasm, he explored with both for his richly illustrated masterpiece “Materialization phenomena “. To date, this is considered a methodological standard work of parapsychology.
In addition, intensive research in the physical field of manifestations of mediumship took place throughout Europe. For Indridi Indridason in Reykjavik an own experimental house was built. Schwab experimented with the Berliner Maria Vollhardt and her ectoplasm productions. In Austria, early research began with Willi Schneider, who also exhibited rudimentary ectoplasmic formations as a youngster. Maria Silbert was examined in Graz by various commissions, who were able to observe her materialized spirits wander through the adjoining room, a large cabinet space actually. Engineer Fritz Grunewald and Professors Winter and Jäger worked with the Copenhagen Full Materialization Medium Einer Nielsen and his masses of ectoplasm. During his career, 20,000 ectoplasm based phantoms were allegedly mediumistally manifested in his sessions sine the late 60ies. The famous Italian Eusapia Paladino visited Schrenck and colleagues in Munich for sittings in Schrencks private residence after her experiments with Prof. Bottacci at the University of Turin.
|Professores Winter and Jaeger in Copenhagen testing the celebrity Materialization Medium Einer Nielsen. The veil-phenomenon is displayed here by the spirits in control behind the scenes…
Thomas Mann and Marie Curie attended – besides many other representatives of science – sittings with Willi Schneider at the Technical University of Munich. And later with his brother Rudi Schneider, who continued Willis career so to speak as an adult. William Crawford unveiled his investigations into the ectoplasm of the Goligher Circle and completed and published his three-volume studies with his famous standard work ‘Psychic Structures’. Dr. Geley experimented with Jan Guzik and the famous Polish medium Franek Kluski in Warsaw and published his spectacular findings in his ‘Clairvoyance and Materialization’. Again ectoplasm was extensively photographed. Just like Schwab with Stanislava, in his laboratory he repeated with Eva C. Schrenck’s findings. The English researcher Harry Price triggered a scandal about Rudi Schneider, whom he knowingly falsely accused of fraud. Apparently he did not want him to leave for Paris, where Dr. Osty was waiting for further experiments. Osty was it who eventually succeeded at the “Institute de Metapsychique de Paris” to scientifically prove the existence of a force controlled by Rudi on his command (together with Olga, the spirit guide).
With all the names mentioned here and the corresponding mediumistical personalities, every reader must be aware that we only know about them today because they have been mentioned in more or less scientific publications. Additionally there were hundreds, if not thousands, working in their communities and circles who went unmentioned. Their achievements are completely unknown to us today. Let’s face it, should those who have become known have been anyhow representative, what a gigantic fund of mediumistical achievements have gone undetected!
|Stanislawa P. on film showing the extrusion and retraction of ectoplasm, filmed by Schrenck and gone lost from the German Library in Munich…
ECTOPLASM IN THE CHEMICAL LAB
Dr. C. Bernoulli and Schrenck succeeded in having ectoplasm examined in chemical laboratories. And that was by no means necessarily expectable. Originating from the physiology of the medium and / or the sitters ectoplasm was and is an extremely elusive agent. It can rarely be touched only very carefully and under controlled conditions. It is neither subtle nor completely material. To ban the substance in a permanent state without having it dissolve again shortly thereafter, has only rarely occurred. But it became clear that its secret did not reveal itself under the microscope. The human ingredients within the mass were showing up clearly: unicellular organisms, coreless cells, rod and epithelium cells, fat and mucous membrane cells. However, how these were entangled in the observed characteristics of the ectoplasm could not be deduced from the findings.
After all, the substance called ectoplasm seemed to occur in different aggregate states, from gaseous to material, in between all conceivable colors and textures being able to depict most filigrane visible content sometimes resembling photographic, sometimes artistic material. It also was building up individual physiologies over and over again, hands, heads, faces and torsos for example. Ectoplasm could spontaneously emerge in the dark and be perceived as a soft tissue. Or suddenly spontaneously form in the red light. Or flow out of body openings of the mediums. More and moreoften it was very obvious the medium and the sitters together seemed to be energetically involved in its development.
In the ectoplasm informal structures were formed coming from present attendees or from discarnate entities alike. If certain deceased personalities face showed up. Did it show up because of the memory of those present or because a spirit projected itself into it? These questions are still not answered conclusively.
|From the report of a chemical laboratory in Munich analysing ectoplasm for Schrenck…
|From the analysis of ectoplasm from a laboratory for C. Bernoulli…
ECTOPLASM IN THE US AND CANADA
Hundreds, if not thousands, of materialization mediums were working in the US and Canada. Many lived and demonstrated in the up to 160 years old Spiritualist Camps. Others in big cities, like Chicago, for example. Ethel Post-Parrish from Camp Chesterfield was famous for her materialization of an indian girl ‘Silver Bell’. From the 1950s Keith M.R. was widely impressing and his audiovisual heritage is jealously withheld from today’s “Aquarian Foundation” and remains unpublished. The most extensively studied case is that of the medium Margery Crandon. It kept the American Society for Psychical Research in suspense for a decade. In Canada, it was Hamilton’s findings with the medium Mary Marshall. His photographic legacy about this multiple manifestation case in regaards to ectoplasm is now visible to everyone as digitized “open source” on the website of the University of Winnipeg.
|One of Hamiltons photos showing photograph like properties within the ectoplasmic substance…
In the 1990s, Physical Mediumship experienced a worldwide revival through the Scole Groups achievements and stepped out from the long shadow of institutionalized Mental Mediumship. In Germany, after the millennium, the German Felix Zirkel around the medium Kai Mügge was followed by a large number of German-speaking experimental circles in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also in the Scandinavian countries the “New Age of Physical Mediumship” produced many circles. The same in Australia where Mügge and other modern mediums had demonstrated The Felix Zirkel and Kai Mügge’s mediumship spearheaded an eclectic spirituality that had completely freed itself from the traditional English survival-proof approach and delivered cosmic messages from entities of various natures. It is more about the survival of humanity than of the individual. Ectoplasm and materialization also occur in these contemporary circles with great regularity.