WHEN DU Moncel, on 11th March 1878, first exhibited to the French Academy of
Sciences the phonograph, a savant, named Bouillaud, took him by the throat and
called him a swindler and a ventriloquist. This happened in the presence of
Camille Flammarion. According to
some savants, the medium Eva C. produced
some of the materialisation phenomena described in Part 1. fraudulently with the
muscles of the stomach and oesophagus.
But since the rumination hypothesis would only apply to a few of the phenomena,
the medium would have to be a snake-charmer and first-rate conjuror as well, and
would be wiser to exhibit her art on the stage instead of leading a simple and
Even should the medium possess all these talents, they would not suffice to
explain the facts observed by the author.
Yet the criticism advanced in the daily and scientific press prefers to deny
these facts and to regard the author as the victim of a deception extending over
The objections put forward in the press and in pamphlets could not be answered
as they came, since it was often necessary to deal with some of them, such as
those concerning the use of illustrations from Le Miroir, by means of new
experiments, and to obtain expert opinions.
The world war which broke out in 1914 interrupted the investigations and
discussions for several years. Yet even during the war a few stray accounts of
further tests appeared, till, in 1918, Dr
Gustave Geley published his comprehensive and favourable observations.
The material published after the issue of the first German edition, with some
chapters from the author's Kampf um die Materialisations Phaenomene
(Controversy concerning Materialisation Phenomena), is comprised in the
present Part II, and forms an important supplement to the original volume.
In addition, some analogous experiences with other mediums are briefly cited, so
that the reader now not only gets a survey of the ten years' work with Eva C.,
but is shown that such phenomena are not so rare as one might expect, and that
they show great similarities in their occurrence and development.
The illustrations in this Part II, in so far as they are not repeated from Part
I, are made by Messrs Hambock at Munich. For the reproductions from Le Miroir
the original pages have been used.
Finally, the author takes much pleasure in thanking Colonel Peter and Prof.
Urban for their co-operation in this work.
The Rumination Hypothesis
The special gift of Eva C. lies, as already mentioned, in the region of
teleplastics or materialisation. The only possible objection which can be made
is that the materialisation products are, in some way, fraudulently smuggled
into the sťance room. The business of the control is, therefore, the
comparatively simple one of preventing the medium from bringing in objects for
exhibition, or having them passed to her by an accomplice. The result of the
control has been consistently negative, and therefore favourable to the medium.
This must be specially emphasised since the Munich observers, who doubted the
genuineness of the phenomena, had to admit that "nobody can find any material
which might be used in these materialisations, either before, or after the
Being thus driven into a corner, the need for an explanation takes refuge in the
rumination hypothesis, which asserts that the stomach, or the gullet, may be
used as hiding-places for the images and objects produced, and assumes that the
medium is an expert in the rumination process.
One of the supporters of this theory, now advanced for the first time in the
history of mediumistic phenomena, describes the process as follows:
"It is quite simply (!) done like this: Pictures are drawn, painted, or
photographically reproduced on chiffon gauze, after the dressing has been
removed in hot water. These pictures are then cut out along their contours. The
same can be done with gold-beaters' skin, which has the advantage of being
unaffected by moisture (saliva and gastric juices). It is also very thin, and
therefore occupies a small space when folded. It is soft, noiseless, and shows
no traces of folding, crumpling, or rolling. Such things are swallowed before
the experiment. Among other things there are rubber gloves, such as are used for
operations, objects cut out in the shape of hands, formless shreds of animal
mesentery, as well as catgut, and the like, which can be inflated. All these can
be swallowed into the same human stomach.
"The investigator, of course, cannot find these things by inspection, nor even
by means of X-rays. They can only be discovered by the stomach-pump. The medium,
either tied up or held by the hands during the sitting, brings up these things
noiselessly behind the curtain and unfolds them with the hands, or her mouth, on
her knees, which are drawn up for this purpose under her chin. The medium then
suspends these things with her hands or her mouth at the curtain by means of
small hooks attached to the preparations (twisted pins). These hooks are turned
inwards before swallowing, so as to produce no injury. The suspensions of these
hooks can be traced by pin-holes actually found in the curtain. The removal of
the materialisations is also affected by the hands or the mouth. When the
flash-light is turned on the medium regularly simulates a strong nervous shock,
makes convulsive defensive movements, frees her hands from control, and closes
the curtain as if for defence. Then, behind the closed curtain, the medium
swallows the objects, after hastily crumpling them up into a small compass.
Agility is not witchcraft, but a matter of practice."
The final stage in this fraudulent manipulation is imagined by the critic to be
"The materialisations are then vomited at home, or if they keep lying in the
stomach, because they have perhaps unfolded themselves, they are removed, in a
natural way, by means of mashed potatoes or stewed plums."
The process here described therefore presupposes: Painted or drawn images on
gold-beaters' skin, chiffon gauze, paper, or some textile fabric, to which
twisted pins or small hooks are attached, and for the other experiments the
smuggling of shreds of mesentery, or the guts of cats or lambs, the repeated
closing of the curtain, and rising from the chair for the purpose of fastening
these things to the curtain, which is supposed to be done exclusively with the
mouth, and finally "mashed potatoes and stewed plums!"
The presence of prepared images is contradicted by the technical opinion given
by the Manager of the Hambock Institute of Graphic Art. The structures resemble
animal and vegetable forms, and show no marks indicating manual work or
manufactured fabrics. For this and other reasons stated in the report, we cannot
be dealing with prepared images.
The production by rumination cannot be assumed in the case of a whole extensive
group of phenomena, in which odd forms and fragments of members and faces are
generated before the eyes of the observers, without the participation of the
medium's mouth or respiratory organs, while her body is motionless (knees
immobile, hands under visible control, or held by the observers, and head
visible in a red light of about one hundred candle-power). In these conditions
the materialisations have been observed to execute automatic movements (changes
of shape and of place). Nor can the instantaneous appearance and disappearance
of the structures be explained in this way. The development of a forearm and
hand out of a white patch in front of the medium's feet (Fig.
26), the pressing of fingers provided with nails into the back of the
author's hand, three times in succession, while the medium's hands were held and
her body was visible and motionless (Fig. 22), the luminosity of the
material in the dark (Fig. 141), are all examples which tell against this
theory. More than half the observations are excluded from discussion in
connection with the rumination hypothesis by the fact that they had no
connection with the mouth.
It has, indeed, been proved, partly by photography, in another large class of
experiments, that the substance often emerges from the mouth and disappears in
the same way, and that, therefore, the organs of respiration and digestion may
be concerned in the production of the transitory material, but one cannot see
how solid and plastic objects, the size of human faces, could be swallowed and
brought up again, out of the stomach, without attracting attention. The help of
the knees and hands is eliminated by the new control introduced in November 1912
(hands held, or visible, during the whole sitting), and also by a large number
of previous experiments.
That flat substances can be withdrawn from their envelopes, spread out,
smoothed, set up, folded up again, and compressed into a given small volume, and
all in one or two seconds, is an assertion which, in itself, requires proof.
In the sitting of 9th May 1913 the medium Eva C. was completely sewn into a
tricot garment in one piece, which only left her hands free. Her head was
enveloped in a veil, sewn on to the neck of the garment all round, and her hands
remained visible in the light during the whole sitting, and took no part. The
materialisation phenomenon, as shown by the photograph,
developed outside this cage, which enclosed her whole body, and could not,
therefore, have been produced by rumination, unless we assume that the substance
penetrated the veil. Such a penetration could be photographically proved under
the same rigid conditions in the case of two different mediums. The process by
which the material penetrated through the meshes of the veil has no connection
with the act of rumination, and in this, as well as in previous occurrences,
other hypotheses must be brought forward for an explanation.
Finally, rumination presupposes an abnormal functioning of the stomach and
gullet, as well as the dilatation of the walls of the stomach. In the two
mediums with whom the author experimented (girls of twenty-six and nineteen
respectively) such pathological peculiarities are not found, nor could they have
been hidden from observation for four years. There are no indications pointing
in that direction.
It has also been objected that the medium can always prepare herself behind the
closed curtain, so that there is always a possibility of making materialisations
appear without any apparent participation by the mouth.
This objection also does not apply. Hands and feet remained visible even when
the curtain was closed. In a number of sittings the materialisation process even
commenced during hypnotisation, and the author had hardly time to open the
cameras. In the sitting of 17th May 1910, which also began with an open curtain,
the author sat by the medium in the cabinet and observed the evolution out of
Eva's mouth of a flocculent substance, which in no way corresponded to the
supposed scheme of rumination. The production of complete head images often took
place so quickly after hypnosis (e.g., 1st June 1912) that the fraudulent
technique required for rumination was rendered impossible owing to the shortness
of the time available.
On 1st June 1910 the phenomena were observed with an open curtain. At the
sitting of 28th October 1910 the curtain was open from the beginning. Further
records of curtains being open will be found in the reports of 3rd November and
28th December 1910, 7th June and 16th August 1911, and 11th September 1912.
Although the above arguments, which could easily be multiplied, dispose of the
hypothesis of the rumination of swallowed objects, that hypothesis was further
investigated in a sitting on 26th November 1913 in Paris. The initial and final
examination of the medium (mouth, nose, and, hair, as well as a gynaecological
examination), of the sťance costume and the cabinet, conducted by the Paris
physician, Dr Bourbon, and the author, were negative. M. Bourdet and Mine.
Bisson were also present. Eva C. dined at seven o'clock. The, sitting commenced
at 8.45 p.m. in a feeble white light. Hands and knees were visibly inactive
during the whole sitting. The medium did not leave her chair in the cabinet for
a moment. The curtains were open while the phenomenon took place.
Between 9 p.m. and 9.10 p.m. without the help of the hands or knees, a flowing
white substance emerged from the medium's mouth, which was inclined towards the
left. It was about 20 inches long and 8 inches broad. It lay on the breast of
the dress, spread out, and formed a white head-like disk, with a face profile
turned to the right, and of life size. Even after the flash-light was ignited
the curtain remained wide open. At the same moment the author illuminated the
structure with an electric torch, and found that it formed a folded strip, which
receded slowly into the medium's mouth, and remained visible until the sitting
closed at 9.20 p.m.
While in the state of hypnosis, the medium rose from her chair and took an
emetic tendered to her by the author (1 gramme ipecacuanha and 1/2 gramme tartar
emetic), was completely undressed while standing half in and half out of the
cabinet, and examined in detail by the author and Dr Bourbon, who took charge of
the sťance costume, and also examined it carefully. The final examination of the
cabinet and chair gave no result. Dressed in a dressing-gown, Eva C. was then
laid on a couch in the room, and was not left unobserved for a moment.
After two further doses of the same strength, vomiting set in at 9.30 p.m.,
which brought up the contents of the stomach. The quantity was about a pint, and
was taken charge of by the author, who did not give it out of his hands until he
handed it over to the Masselin Laboratory in Paris for analysis. The vomit was
brown in colour, and besides the wafers taken with the powders there was no
trace of any white substance such as observed by us. The detailed report of the
Laboratory in question, dated 29th November 1913, closes with the words:
"The final result of the examination shows that the vomit consisted exclusively
of food products and the emetics, and contained fragments of meat, fruit, and
vegetables, probably mushrooms, which were found in pieces of considerable size.
The rest of the contents consisted of food in an advanced state of digestion.
There was not the slightest trace of a body whose appearance or histological
structure gave the impression of a foreign body, or of a substance not used for
nutrition, and, in particular, there was no trace of paper or chiffon."
Although this experiment is a sufficient refutation of the rumination
hypothesis, Eva C. announced her readiness to submit on another occasion to the
process of stomach rinsing. A record was made of the sitting, and was signed by
all those present. The above procedure may be taken as a definite proof of the
inadequacy of the rumination hypothesis to explain the phenomena observed to
develop from Eva's mouth. So long as images like those published in this book
have not been brought up by rumination, correctly exposed, and disposed of in
the same way, without the use of the hands or knees, and so long as a technique
assumed by the critics is not proved to be possible by evidential experiments,
this attempted explanation must be considered as an hypothesis itself requiring
The above article was taken from Baron von Schrenck Notzing's "Phenomena of
Materialisation" (1920, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. Ltd, London).