The Spirits Are Real
THERE are some who seek to explain all spirit manifestations
on the basis of trickery or fraud, or on the principle of some yet
undiscovered law of nature which they are industriously seeking to
discover. They refuse to admit that the raps, tilting of tables, playing
of instruments, voices through the mouths of mediums personating
different persons who have passed away, automatic writing, levitation,
apports, and materializations are produced by the spirits of the dead,
or are produced by any other intelligences independent of the medium.
They cannot explain how any of these things are done; they contravene
every law of natural physics; they admit that the inexplicable
happenings take place, but still hold to the opinion that there must be
some law which, when discovered, will yield an explanation. And yet,
after years of the most painstaking scientific investigation, they are
no nearer a solution than when they began. Such men are pure
materialists, and have chained themselves to a hypothesis from which
they will not permit themselves to be liberated, though they perish with
There are multitudes of spiritistic manifestations which can never be
accounted for except upon the basis that they are performed by
intelligences or entities entirely separate from and independent of the
medium or any other person present. References to a few of these will
not be out of place in this chapter. From the "Annals of Psychical
Science," Volume VII, pages 175, 176, I take the following:
"One day Eusapia [Palladino] said to M. R., 'This phantom
comes for you.' She then fell at once into a profound trance. A woman
of great beauty appeared, who had died two years before; her arm and
shoulders were covered by the edge of the curtain, in such a way,
however, as to indicate the form. Her head was covered with a very
fine veil; she breathed a warm breath against the back of M. R.'s
hand, carried his hand up to her hair, and gently bit his fingers.
Meanwhile Eusapia was heard uttering prolonged groans, showing painful
effort, which ceased when the phantom disappeared. The apparition was
perceived by two others, and returned several times. An attempt was
made to photograph it. Eusapia and John [the medium's controlling
spirit] consented, but the phantom by a sign with the head and hands,
indicated to us that she objected, and twice broke the photographic
"The request was then made that a mold of her hands might be
obtained, and though Eusapia and John both promised to make her comply
with our desire, they did not succeed. In the last séance Eusapia
gave a more formal promise; the three usual raps on the table indorsed
the consent, and we indeed heard a hand plunged in the liquid in the
cabinet. After some seconds R. had in his hands a block of paraffin
with a complete mold, but an etheric hand advanced from the curtain
and dashed it to pieces. . . .
"It is evident, therefore, . . . that a third will can
intervene in spiritistic phenomena, which is neither that of 'John,'
nor of Eusapia , nor of those present at the séance, but is opposed
to all of them."
At many of Eusapia Palladino's séances, hands seemingly composed of
flesh and bones appeared near the medium while her own hands were held
by other members of the circle, remained in evidence for a time, and
gradually dissolved while grasped by some of the sitters. Concerning one
of many such experiences the following is related:
"At a later sitting this same great black hand came out from
the curtain, and gently grasped Bottazzi by the nape of the neck. At
this séance Dr. Porro, the astronomer, was present. 'Letting go
Professor Porro's hand,' says Bottazzi (Porro was next him in the
circle), 'I felt for this ghostly hand and clasped it. It was a left
hand, neither hot nor cold, with rough, bony fingers, which
dissolved under pressure. It did not retire by producing a sensation
of withdrawal; it dissolved, dematerialized, melted.'
"--"Are the Dead Alive?" p. 107.
"At another time [says Bottazzi], later on, the same hand was
placed on my right forearm -- I saw a human hand, this time of natural
color, and I felt with mine the back of a lukewarm hand, rough and
nervous. The hand dissolved (I saw it with my own eyes) and
retreated as if into Mine. Palladino's body, describing a
curve."--"Annals of Psychical Science," Vol. VI, p.
Concerning another séance we have this record:
"A cold wind came from behind the curtain, which suddenly
opened as if it had been opened by two hands. A human head came out,
with a pale, haggard face, of sinister evil aspect. It lingered a
moment and then disappeared."-- Id., Vol. V, p. 305.
At a later sitting Dr. Mucchi became involved in a weird struggle
with the invisible entities that seemed to be at work producing these
uncanny phenomena. A lump of clay had been placed within the cabinet in
the hope that Eusapia might be able to produce impressions of spirit
hands in the clay. After a short wait, rappings on the table indicated
that the impressions had been made. Dr. Mucchi was eager to observe the
result, and arose and went toward the cabinet. He says:
"I was about to enter, . . . but was repelled by two hands
made of nothing. I felt them; they were agile and prompt; they
seized me and pushed me back. The struggle lasted for some time;
the hands seemed to take pleasure in resisting me; they pushed me back
if I tried to enter, and pulled me forward if I retired. I ended by
seizing the lump of clay," whereupon "they thrust me out
with a violent shove that nearly upset everything. There were
observable on the clay two or three impressions such as might be made
by a closed fist."--Id., p. 309.
What folly to hold that there must be some law of nature, not yet
discovered, that will explain such a transaction as this! Here was a
strong and active man, a skilled observer of psychic phenomena,
repeatedly pushed toward and pulled away from a pair of curtains, and
finally hurled out of the cabinet with violence -- by what? A law of
nature that had actual invisible hands, and could toss a strong man
about as some boisterous giant would do! And this was done, not in the
darkness, but in the light.
Some of these scientifically unexplainable phenomena have occurred
under most exacting test conditions and before scientists of world-wide
repute. For instance, Sir William Crookes mentioned some striking
phenomena in his presidential address before the British Association for
the Advancement of Science, in 1898. He called his address a"
Report on the Investigation of Phenomena Called Spiritual." In that
report he stated frankly that the phenomena he had witnessed were so
extraordinary that, on recalling the details, he finds an antagonism
between his reason, which pronounces them scientifically impossible, and
his senses, which he is certain were not playing him false.
He states, for instance, that he had observed the movement of heavy
bodies, without mechanical exertion; that he had heard during his
experiments raps and other noises varying from "delicate ticks as
with the point of a pin," to "a cascade of sharp sounds as
from an induction coil in full work" and "detonations in the
air;" that he had seen "movements of heavy bodies when at a
distance from the medium; "that he had watched "a chair move
slowly up to a table from a far corner when all were watching it;"
that he had repeatedly witnessed "the rising of tables and chairs
off the ground without contact with any person;" and even "the
levitation of human beings;" that he had seen "luminous
appearances," not once, but many times, and under the most varied
forms; that once, "in the light," he had seen "a
luminous cloud hover over a heliotrope on a side table, break a sprig
off, and carry the sprig to a lady;" and "on some occasions a
similar luminous cloud visibly condense to the form of a hand, and carry
small objects about." He adds:
"I have more than once seen, first, an object move, then a
luminous cloud appear to form about it, and, lastly, the cloud
condense into shape and become a perfectly formed hand. At this stage
the hand is visible to all present. It is not always a mere form, but
sometimes appears perfectly lifelike and graceful, the fingers moving
and the flesh apparently as human as that of any in the room. . . . I
have retained one of these hands in my own, firmly resolved not to let
it escape. There was no struggle or effort made to get it loose, but
it gradually seemed to resolve itself into vapor, and faded in that
manner from my grasp."
These occurrences took place in Sir William's "own house, in the
light, and with only private friends present besides the medium,"
and they happened scores and hundreds of times, observed by many
different witnesses, under every test condition that expert scientific
knowledge and trained detective ingenuity could devise.
During one séance, with Mr. D. D. Home as the medium, Sir William
states that a lath lying on the table moved across the table without
human touch, and rapped out a telegraphic message in the Morse code on
his hand, making the dots and dashes so rapidly that he could make out a
word only now and then. He said:
"I heard sufficient to convince me that there was a good Morse
operator on the other end of the line, wherever that might be.
It must be admitted, even by Spiritists, that there is a tremendous
amount of fraud practised by spirit mediums; and yet, knowing all that,
Dr. Elliotson, after long and determined opposition to Spiritism, was
finally compelled to make the admission:
"I am now quite satisfied of the reality of the
phenomena."--"Miracles and Modern Spiritualism," Dr.
Alfred Russel Wallace, p. 99.
To admit the reality of the phenomena, and to admit that they are
produced by the spirits of the dead, are two vastly different things.
Many of the phenomena are indeed real, but they are not produced by the
spirits of the dead. The spirits who produce them never lived in human
"No hypothesis of prestidigitation, no matter how cleverly
worked out, can, for instance, explain the table-tipping incident
mentioned by Professor Morgan. A skeptical friend present at a séance
was loudly scoffing at the so-called spirits, and daring them to
display their powers. Spontaneously, without contact, the heavy
table around which the experimenters were standing broke away from
them and pinned the skeptic against the wall with such force that he
cried for mercy."--"Are the Dead Alive?" pp. 25, 26.
In 1870 a committee appointed by the London Dialectical Society made
an investigation of "alleged spiritual manifestations." The
furniture of the rooms in which the experiments were conducted was in
every case the ordinary furniture of those rooms, and the experiments
were generally conducted under gas light. "There was a minimum
chance," the committee stated, "for self-delusion or
inadequate observation." The authors of the report say:
"At times we sat under the table when the motions and sounds
were most vigorous. We held the hands and feet of the psychic. Our
ingenuity was exercised in the invention and application of tests. After
trials often repeated we were compelled to confess that imposture was
out of the question."-- Report of the Committee on Spiritualism,
of the Dialectical Society.
Mr. Edward Cox, F. R. G. S., in the report of the subcommittee, says:
"The smaller furniture of the room is frequently attracted to
the place where the psychic sits. Chairs far out of reach and
untouched may be seen moving along the floor in a manner singularly
resembling the motion that may be observed in pieces of steel
attracted by a magnet, which rise a little, fall, move on, stop, until
fully within the influence of the magnetic force, and then jump to the
magnet with a sudden spring. . . . Nor is this phenomenon at all
dubious to the spectator. However it may be done, the fact is
indisputable that it is done."-- Ibid.
Then the committee summarizes its report:
"The motions were witnessed simultaneously by all present.
They were matters of measurement, and not of opinion or fancy . And
they occurred so often, under so many and such various conditions,
with such safeguards against error or deception, and with such
invariable results, as to satisfy the members of your subcommittee by
whom the experiments were tried, wholly skeptical as most of them were
when they entered upon the investigation , that there is a force
capable of moving bodies without material contact, and which force is
in some unknown manner dependent upon the presence of human
The noted astronomer and scientist, Camille Flammarion, gives this
testimony concerning the physical phenomena of Spiritism:
"For me, the levitation of objects is no more doubtful than
that of a pair of scissors lifted by the aid of a magnet."--"Mysterious
Psychic Forces," Flammarion, pp. 5, 6.
Dr. Marion, in his attack, "The Philosophy of
Spiritualism," says concerning spiritistic manifestations:
"The phenomena are genuine. The hypothesis which Spiritualists
endeavor to build on these phenomena is altogether another
And so it is. Our admission of the genuineness of the phenomena must
not be interpreted as indicating in the slightest degree that we
consider it even possible that the phenomena of Spiritism prove
that the dead have anything to do with these manifestations, or that the
dead are conscious, or that they are even alive. These demonstrations
are produced by agencies that were never human, and are in this world
for a limited time only, while they await the execution of the decree of
the Almighty against the fallen Lucifer and his fallen hosts.
But to return to the manifestations themselves. Sir William Crookes
made an exhaustive study of spiritistic phenomena, and has left this
"On five separate occasions a heavy dining-table rose between
a few inches and one and one-half feet off the floor, under special
circumstances which rendered trickery impossible. On another occasion
a heavy table rose from the floor in full light, while I was holding
the medium's hands and feet. On another occasion the table rose from
the floor, not only when no person was touching it, but under
conditions which I had prearranged so as to assure unquestionable
proof of the fact."-- Notes, Quarterly Journal of Science,
January, 1874, pages 84, 85.
Count Agénor de Gasparin, a Swiss investigator, has left a record of
his investigations of the phenomena of levitation, in which he declares
that the energy sometimes displayed in the levitation of furniture was
The Rev. A. Mahan, first president of Cleveland University, who has
stood as stoutly against the deductions of Spiritism as, perhaps, even
the redoubtable Frank Podmore himself, makes this admission concerning
the genuineness of the phenomena:
"We admit the facts for the all-adequate reason that, after
careful inquiry, we have been led to conclude that they are real. We
think that no candid inquirer, who carefully investigates the subject,
can come to any other conclusion. . . . We have ourselves witnessed
physical manifestations which, in our judgment, can be accounted for
by no reference to mere muscular action. "--"Modern
Mysteries Explained and Exposed," p. 42.
Rev. Mahan further states:
"Our fathers were as familiar with the rapping sounds, the
movement of articles of furniture, etc., as we are. They, in their
ignorance attributed the manifestations to satanic agency [and they
were right]. We, in our wisdom, have attributed them to the
interposition of departed spirits. . . . Nothing can be more
unphilosophical than to attribute such phenomena to the interposition
of disembodied spirits."--Id., p. 98.
Mr. Mahan, in his wisdom, attributes these mysterious manifestations
to some hitherto undiscovered or unanalyzed and unnamed force, which he
proceeds to name "the odylic force;" and having named it, he
has, of course, settled the vexed question as to what it is.
Levitation and rapping are not by any means the only spiritistic
phenomena put forth to prove the genuineness of Spiritism.
It frequently happens that at séances articles that have been
brought from a distance are suddenly dropped on the table, almost as
soon as asked for by some member of the circle. On one occasion a fish
was asked for, and within a few minutes it was dropped upon the table,
still alive and wet from the sea. On another occasion a considerable
quantity of flowers, consisting of anemones, tulips, chrysanthemums,
Chinese primroses, and ferns, all absolutely fresh and covered with a
fine cold dew, were dropped upon the table. Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace
"A friend of mine asked for a sunflower, and one six feet high
fell upon the table, having a large mass of earth about its
roots."--"The Proofs of the Truths of Spiritualism,"
At one of Dr. Hooper's seances, the spirit control was asked for a
shamrock with roots. In a few minutes it was placed on the table,
"all wet and glistening, also black mud-like earth with several
live worms crawling on the table, and where the clump fell was a dirty
patch on the table cover."-- Id., pp. 90. 91. The root was
divided among the sitters, and planted.
Dr. Maxwell, another observer, makes this statement:
"At certain times, we felt ourselves touched by hands having
all the characteristics of those of a living being. We felt the skin,
the warmth, the movable fingers. On grasping them, we experienced the
sensation of hands dissolving away as though composed of a semifluid
substance. They appear of a whitish color, almost transparent, with
elongated fingers."-- Quoted in Tweedale's "Man's
Survival After Death," page 231.
Prof. E. L. Larkin records the following:
"A hand and forearm appeared above the screen Sometimes an arm
appeared, with a sleeve and then without, up to near the shoulder. All
were given a handshake. To me the arm seemed to issue from the back or
shoulder blade of the girl [the medium]. After shaking hands, the arm
and hand vanished each time."--"Science and the
Soul," p. 53.
Mr. Frank Podmore, who has opposed the deductions of Spiritists from
every material standpoint, makes this frank acknowledgment concerning
the phenomena themselves:
"I should, perhaps, state at the outset, as emphatically as
possible, that it seems to me incredible that fraud should be the sole
explanation of the revelations made in trance and automatic writing.
No one who has made a careful study of the records, and is
sufficiently free from prepossession to enable him to form an honest
opinion, will believe that any imaginable exercise of fraudulent
ingenuity, supplemented by whatever opportuneness of coincidence and
laxness on the part of investigators, could conceivably explain the
whole of the [spirit] communications. And the more intimately they are
studied, the more the .conviction grows that we must assume
supernormal agency of one kind or another. In what follows, then, I
shall take it for granted that fraud is not the complete
explanation."--"The Newer Spiritualism," p. 146.
And concerning the Spiritistic operations of one C. B. Sanders, Mr.
'There are some marvelous occurrences recorded which cannot be
explained either by telepathy, or by any extension of the known
senses."-- Id., p. 151.
The quotations and references given herein to prove that spiritistic
phenomena are real, could be added to at an interminable length; but the
evidence already given should be sufficient. Of course, all must admit
that a tremendous amount of fraud has been connected with Spiritism from
the beginning of its revival in America in 1847-48. Unscrupulous
persons, for financial reasons, have imitated the phenomena, and have,
in many instances, deceived the public for years. Shameless frauds have
been perpetrated repeatedly; and yet, mingled with it all, there have
been the genuine spirit phenomena which human ingenuity cannot produce
and which the brightest human intellect cannot explain except on the
hypothesis that these phenomena are produced by supernormal or
While Spiritist leaders know well enough that much fraud and trickery
are practised, yet they know also that fraud and trickery will not
explain more than a portion of these mysterious demonstrations. And
knowing that, they accept the claims of the spirits that they are the
spirits of the dead. No such conclusion is necessary or warranted. To
the Christian who believes his Bible it is absolutely indefensible. But
it does this: it helps to bolster up the notion, borrowed from ancient
paganism, that the soul is immortal, deathless. If that hypothesis were
true, it would follow at once that man is not dependent upon Jesus
Christ for eternal life, nor helped in his attainments "beyond the
veil" by anything that Jesus Christ has done for him or will do. It
rules out our Lord as the Saviour of men. It belies the very name He
bears, as previously shown.
If Satan can convince the world that mankind has no need of a
Saviour, that Jesus Christ is nothing to us but a great teacher, that He
was no more the Son of God than we ourselves are, he will have captured
the world in his snare of death. It is the great deception, by which
Lucifer hopes to sweep away the prospects of the race he has duped and
degraded and despoiled, lo, these many generations.
But ever there stands with wounded hands, with nail-pierced feet,
with riven side and thorn-scarred brow, one who is described as the
"Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," whose heart,
bowed down with the weight of this world's sin, was broken for you and
for me. That Man, persecuted by His own people, insulted by those who
could win life only through His death, whose peace could be purchased
only by His pain,-- that Man stands today as He stood then, the only
link between earth and heaven, Son of God and Son of man, the purchase
price of man's redemption , the Prince of the Restoration, your Saviour
and mine, if we will have Him; your Judge and mine, if we trample the
sacrifice of His life under proud and thankless feet.
 Des Tables
tournantes, du Surnaturel en general, et des Esprits, Paris, Dentu,
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