THEY WERE TERRIFIED AND THOUGHT
THEY HAD SEEN A SPIRIT
by Robert Egby
Holy books and others are full of accounts of spirit manifestations, yet people find it so difficult to beleieve. We live in a world of double standards.
Imagine, just image you’re an ancient king throwing a party, a feast for a thousand people. Everyone is drinking wine from gold and silver goblets looted by your dad’s raid on the temple. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the fingers of a man’s hand appears, and above the candlesticks, writes a message on the plaster wall of your palace. It spells your doom! The end of the Empire!
It’s one of the most dramatic materializations in the Old Testament. It’s found in Book of Daniel 5 -- Belshazar’s feast.
Materialization in psychic phenomena is rare these days, mainly because it’s highly controversial, highly questionable, open to fraud, and most of the genuine mediums have gone over to the Other Side.
Materialization is a term denoting the appearance of temporary, more or less organized substances in various degrees of solidification and possessing human physical characteristics; limbs, faces, eyes, full figures--all shaped for a temporary existence out of ectoplasm by an unknown agency.
Once one understands this it makes those strange remarks in the New Testament easier to understand. Mary Magdalene and the encounter with Jesus in the Garden. At first she thinks it’s the gardener, then she recognizes the Master. “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” (John 20) Later, on the road to Emmaus, two disciples failed to recognize him, and later still, the ten failed to recognize him until he sat and dined with them and broke bread. “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” (Luke 24:31)
There are many instances of materializations in both the Old and New Testaments, and one wonders why some diligent, inquisitive youngster hasn’t attempted to persistently quiz their orthodox church minister or Bible Class teacher for scientific answers.
Materialization of spirits have occurred throughout history, and since the advent of modern Spiritualism 150 years ago, many remarkable testimonies have been recorded. When the highly esteemed psychic investigator and scientist Sir William Crookes working with medium Florence Cook materialized an entity Katie King in 1874, it triggered a ground swell of (1) materialization séances and (2) an army of scientific investigators. Crookes’ inspiring reports told of how the materialized Katie King, attired in white robes and turban headdress, walked around the closed séance room among the sitters, talking and being felt by the group. Crookes wrote: “I asked her permission to clasp her in my arms..and permission was graciously given.”
For the next forty years, until the outbreak of World War One, investigation of materialization mediums was at an all time high. What made it all the more interesting, is that Eastman Kodak had developed cameras and film that worked for the genuine mediums and against the fraudulent operators.
Being a physical medium wasn’t easy and totally devoid of glamour. Baron von Schrenck-Notzing, a dedicated parapsychologist researcher, worked with a medium called Eva C. He wrote: “The participants took particular care in the fore-and-after-control of the medium: thorough examination of body cavities, genitals, rectum and mouth cavity. Before each séance Eva C. had to wear a special séance costume, in order to exclude all smuggling of prepared objects for fraudulent purposes.”
If that was not enough, the Baron added: “The séances took place in red light, the medium sitting behind a curtain; her hands were regularly under optical or tactile control and were frequently held by the participants during the entire development.”
For the first time, photographic pictures were made extensively of the products of materialization. Nine cameras simultaneously photographed the optically perceptible phenomena. Just before World War One, Schrenck-Notzing used movie cameras to show materialization phenomena, and it was observed with cabinet curtains open.
The problem with early materialization phenomena in séances was the lack of light. High speed strobe lights had not been invented, and photographers used magnesium flash bulbs, which was close to the equivalent of tossing a bomb into a meditation room. The bulbs burned for several seconds with a scorching sunlight effect. Mediums suffered considerably. Some reported being nauseous, marks like burns appearing on the skin, and general feelings of sickness--feelings that would last for days. The lights disrupted séances generally. Then someone suggested a warning system, such as a countdown - three, two one - flash! or by having a bell ring ten seconds before the flash. The system helped reduced discomforts all round.
Then in the early 1930s, a spirit control suggested that daylight might be permissible, and slowly, over a period of several séances daylight was allowed to illuminate the sessions. The first photograph of ectoplasm taken in daylight occurred in July 1931 in Oakland, California. The medium was Mr. M.J. Williams. Materialization had come out of the closet into the daylight!
In February 1929, the British Nature magazine editors suggested fraud and called for a “full scientific examination” by an expert with a “thorough knowledge of the art of mystification.” Stanley de Brath, an English psychic researcher, and colleague of Dr. Gustav Geley at the Institute Métaphysique, pointed out that “scientific examination” of psychic phenomena, spiritualism and materialization had been made by a powerful and honored team of scientists. It’s worth remembering.
The Report of the London Dialectical Society (1870); the works of Sir William Crookes, FRS (1874); of Dr. A.R. Wallace (1875-1913); of Professors Zöllner and Aksakoff (1890); of Mr. F.W.H. Myers (1882-1901); of Professor Hyslop (1905); of Professor E. Boirac (1907); of Sir William Barrett, FRS (1908-1927); of Sir Oliver Lodge, FRS (1909-1929); of Dr. Gustav Geley (1897-1925); of Baron Dr. von Schrenck-Notzing (1910-1928); of Professor C. Richet (1892-1929); of Dr. Eugene Osty (1919-1929).
De Brath commented: “To imagine them fraudulent is to make oneself ridiculous.”
A year after the Stanley de Brath and Nature magazine exchange, one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of materialization phenomena occurred in 1930 with the passing over of a man called Charles Stanton Hill, a lawyer who had been nicknamed “Judge Hill.”
Hill, a long-time student of psychic and spiritualist phenomena, had been a member of the famous -- and controversial -- Margery circle in Boston, a group comprising distinguished professionals including medical doctors. Prior to his death, Judge Hill recorded his thumb prints, and a short while after passing over, returned to the Margery séances and, in soft wax, left two excellent impressions of his right thumb, and one less excellent impression of his left thumb. The identity of the ante-mortem and post-mortem prints were confirmed by experts, and confirmed human survival. Photographs of the wax impressions are contained in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, February 1932.
While all this was going on, a Hungarian researcher, Dr. Nandor Fodor created the Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. The preface to that 1933 publication was written by Sir Oliver Lodge, who, in light of the various phenomena being exhibited, sympathized with scientific investigators.
Lodge wrote: “They have their authentic method of procedure and are fully occupied with orthodox
science, and yet are asked to step outside their well-explored territory, whose problems they well know how to tackle and where their victories have been won, and enter an unfamiliar and apparently grotesque jungle, which has hitherto been abandoned to the vagaries of superstition..”
Then he hit the proverbial nail on the head, when he wrote: “They see themselves introduced to people in an abnormal state, asked to take note of their utterances, to pay critical attention to phenomena which may or may not be simulated, and to make sure of the facts; in the expectation that thereby they will be led to a deeper understanding of the mental aspect of the universe and into regions which cannot be explored by the present methods of science.”
Those words could have been written today--they are still valid. As we move into the 21st century, how do you get an orthodox scientist to take a materialized spirit like Katie King into his arms, and say: “Can I study you?” Some modern skeptics may say “That’s ludicrous!” But remember, Sir William Crookes, the great British physicist did it in the last century. His critics laughed.
How come they don’t laugh when the priest in the orthodox church reads from the Scriptures about Mary Magdalene and the disciples initially not recognizing Jesus that day in Jerusalem. “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit.” (Luke 24:37)
It appears we live in a world with double standards. Thank God, the Infinite Intelligence has only one!
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