Thorstein Wereide

Professor and physicist at the University of Oslo.

The Trance Phenomena of Mrs Ingeborg

First State: Sleeping Trance | Second State: Awakened Trance | The Phenomena

 - Thorstein Wereide -

          IN ORDER to avoid misunderstanding I will first remark that in reading this paper it will be necessary to make use of spiritistic terms. My purpose here is not to put forth any theory but only to describe a series of psychic phenomena. These phenomena, however, are of such an extraordinary kind that it will be difficult to describe them without making use of a spiritistic language.

In Fredrikstad, a town near Oslo, there is a judge called Dahl, who is very highly respected. He had three sons, of whom only the youngest survives, and a married daughter called Ingeborg.

In 1919 the eldest son, Ludvig, died and five years later Ragnar also died.

Soon after the death of the eldest son, the daughter became an extraordinary medium for trance and clairvoyance and through her a series of proofs were given in order to convince the family that the communicator was Ludvig, the brother of the medium.

The séances - if they may be called so - consist simply in the family and others assembling in the sitting-room in full daylight or electric light, without any special formality. After a while Mrs. Ingeborg generally goes over into one of the following two states:

First State: Sleeping Trance [top]

This state is realised after a few minutes. Her ordinary senses are now out of function. She neither sees nor hears. Her control Ludvig says that in this state she is out of her body and this statement is in agreement with the faint remembrance of the medium. In this sleeping trance the communication is realised by means of a psychograph, that moves with great rapidity. The medium is the only person who touches the psychograph and she does not use her eyes to see the letters.

Thus the supranormal character of the communication will be evident. There may also be used a code system unknown to the medium and sitters.

Second State: Awakened Trance [top]

From the sleeping trance, that always occurs at the beginning of the séance, the medium generally awakens. Her eyes are full open and her face has an expression of joy and surprise at what she sees. Sometimes she remembers herself getting back into the body and describes this as an unpleasant process. She is unable to see the other sitters but she sees her two brothers, who occasionally introduce other guests, with whom she is entertaining a lively conversation.

This state is a peculiar one. She herself says that "there is a string" between her and her control. Ludvig on the other hand states the same and says that the medium is dissociated into two persons, the one part being in the physical body while the other part is over on his side, and is controlled by him. The existence of this dissociation is also supported by another clairvoyant, who attended some séances without knowing anything about the dissociation. On looking at the medium this clairvoyant could see the medium in two places, the other person standing in the place where the medium sees the control.

This dissociation is probably the explanation of the peculiar mental state of the medium in this awakened trance. While the medium in the normal state is an intelligent person, she has in the awakened trance only the intellect of a girl of twelve years. This makes her conversation with the control a little difficult, because she does not understand the situation. The control tries to make her repeat what he says in order that the sitters may know it, but the medium repeatedly falls out of the role, being apparently unable to understand the use of repeating his words. She finds her own role stupid and meaningless and now and then, like a naughty little girl, she refuses to obey the control. It is all so stupid, she says.

For the sitters, however, the situation is always very clear under the supposition that Ludvig is present. It happens sometimes that the medium sees both the sitters and her brothers at the same time. It can also happen that she goes over into a deep, dead-like sleep, but as a rule the two states which I have described take place by turn, the awakened trance occupying most of the time, while the psychograph is only used at the opening and the ending of the séance.

The Phenomena [top]

Like the phenomena of Mrs. Piper and of Mrs. Leonard the phenomena of Mrs. Ingeborg have a very spiritistic character, but the manner of communication is not the same, - the awakened trance, which is the most perfect method, being something peculiar, as described above. The séances are only undertaken after permission of the control and have a strictly private character.

Among the intellectual phenomena may be mentioned several cases of cross-correspondence. In 1926 the judge Dahl being in London, Ludvig showed himself to his father and afterwards communicated this to the medium in Norway. On leaving Norway the judge had expressedly said that he would not attend séances in London. In October 1927 the same form of cross-correspondence happened when the judge attended a séance in Denmark.

The book-tests consist in reading the content of closed books. The first phenomenon of this kind happened in 1928, Ludvig reading the content of a book unknown to the medium. In the next experiment it was arranged that the book should be pointed out by the sitters. The success was complete. Ludvig (through the medium) read several lines of Wordsworth's Poetical Works, page 316, the book being pointed out by a guest not belonging to the family. Afterwards a sitter who was rather sceptical mentioned another book and the experiment was repeated with the same success.

It has also happened that unknown people from foreign countries have sent scaled letters to the judge in Norway. The letters are placed on the table during a séances and the letter is answered by a long series of numbers. These numbers together with the unopened letter are sent back to the person in question. On substituting letters of the alphabet for the numbers there comes out an intelligent answer to the scaled letter.

The demonstration concluded with an apport, a piece of paper flying into the open hand of the medium. On looking at the paper there were found written some notes in Ludvig's handwriting. Ludvig had as a student at the university studied English literature and the paper contained some literary notes which (according to Ludvig) had been in one of the books where the reading was going on.

Very remarkable are a series of letters in the handwriting of deceased persons written through the medium. In one of the first cases (on the 19th of Dec. 1926) she wrote simultaneously two letters, one with the left and one with the right hand, the medium not looking at the paper but conversing in a lively manner with the control. The two letters had different addresses and different handwritings. Later on a series of such letters has been produced. Of these handwritings I shall only reproduce one. It had been arranged that the medium on a fixed day (4th of Aug. 1928) should place herself at a writing-table with a piece of paper before her and a pencil in her left hand. At the same time she should place a book before her and read out loud for the sitters as long as the experiment lasted. The instruction was followed. As soon as the medium began the reading her left hand began to write. After reading continually for about ten minutes the pencil dropped out of her hand and on looking at the paper the sitters found the following letter, written, as it seemed, from an English lady who had died four years earlier. It was addressed to her niece Helene L., who was expected as a guest one week later. The medium had never seen the handwriting of the English lady.

In the long series of phenomena there has occurred one case of materialisation in full electric light. During Christmas 1929, five members of the family and the medium were assembled in the judge's home. They had been told that they should get a piece of "silverpaper" for an experiment. After the medium had got into awakened trance she and the judge were ordered to take the paper and hold it stretched out horizontally between them, one hand holding each of the four corners. They did as ordered and after some time the judge had a feeling like an electric current running down from the shoulders through his hands. At the same moment there appeared in the middle of the paper a lock of thick brown hair. The witnesses standing round were advised not to touch it at first, but to wait a few moments because else it would disappear.

I shall now give a report of a very remarkable phenomenon - a real ghost story that has lately taken place in my own home.

In 1925 my wife and I moved into a flat in the top storey of a very old wooden house in Oslo. We didn't know anything special about the house. On 23rd February, 1926, in the middle of the night my wife awoke by hearing three loud knocks on the entrance door. As the family below had guests that evening, she thought that one of them had mistaken the flat and she fell asleep again. Soon afterwards she was again awakened by the same knocking at the door of the sitting-room. She got up and went into the room, but saw nobody. From there she went out into the entrance-hall and here she saw a tall man in evening-dress with a rather sad expression. He said there was something she must help him with. Then he asked her to remember the date: "It was the 23rd of February yesterday," he said, after which to her great surprise he completely disappeared. The electric light was full on and the doors were closed. After this first appearance the man was seen three times, and he always went in the direction of a small room in the corner of the flat, where he disappeared.

Next year, on the date mentioned, I was awakened in the middle of the night by some noise in the room and looking up I found my wife sitting upright in bed in a trance, holding a loud conversation with an invisible person. It soon became obvious that the invisible person was the ghost from a year ago. I could not hear what the invisible person said but in most cases I could conclude what he was saying from what my wife answered and the rest of the conversation I obtained by cross-questioning my wife while she was still in a trance. The conversation lasted at least half an hour. After it was over my wife fell back in bed and slept till the morning, without knowing anything of what had happened. I wrote down the contents of the conversation immediately afterwards. From the communication I will only mention that the ghost claimed to be a person who had lived in the house. He was dead, he said, but not really dead. "I cannot get into contact with other people who are dead," he said "and you are the only living person who has seen me although I have been here."

As I told my wife about it the next day she inclined to think it might be a dream or a hallucination. We resolved, however, to make an experiment with Mrs. Ingeborg, to see if she also saw the ghost. Without telling her about our experience we invited her to spend an evening with us in the autumn of 1928. Mrs. lngeborg went into awakened trance and the control Ludvig immediately presented the same gentleman whom my wife had seen. Mrs. Ingeborg was impressed by his elegance and noble manners. "Have we two been to a ball together?" she asked. "Can I help you in any way?" she asked. It was then arranged by the control that on a certain day the medium should sit down in her home with paper and pencil. She did so, but nobody knows what happened. On awakening there was nothing written except a name.

On 29th May, 1929, we resolved to make another attempt to solve the mystery. Mrs. Ingeborg, who even now had no idea of the ghost, was once more invited to give a séance in our home and this time there came a solution of the mystery. As soon as the medium had awakened in trance, the mysterious gentleman was at once presented to her. After some conversation he said that there was something in the house which must be destroyed, and that she must help him to do it. She was then invited to take his hand and follow him, but this she energetically resisted. As the control promised to follow her she at last consented, she got up and apparently grasped the hand of an invisible person. My wife and I were invited to follow her, which we did.

From the entrance-hall the doors stood open into the small room into which the ghost used to disappear and the light was turned on, but this way she would not go. This detail is rather interesting, because one of the doors was made after I came into the house. Formerly there was no door. Mrs. Ingeborg went into the bedroom and placed herself before the door to the small room where the ghost used to disappear. The door was opened and she went in, and now we stood all three close together in the middle of the room. "Is it a hindrance that the light comes from two sides?" she said. The light was indeed shining into the room from two sides, namely from the lamp in the adjacent room and from the street through the window. After this remark I closed the door to the other room, so that light came in only from the window. The medium was now standing between us in the middle of the room. After some moments she stretched out her hand with palm upwards and said: "Was it here?" A slight tap was then heard and at the same moment there appeared in her hand two old letters, tied together with a red ribbon. After this she went back into the bedroom and placed herself in front of the stove, insisting that the letters should be burnt. We hesitated a minute, we looked carefully at the paper and the writing. The paper was yellow with age and the ink had become so pale that it looked almost like pencil. As the medium insisted that the letters should be burnt and as we could not communicate with her while she was in a trance, there was nothing for us to do. My wife lit the fire and Mrs. Ingeborg put the letters in the stove, watching carefully until they were burnt up.

"Now I have reached what I have tried to do all this time," the man said through the medium. "I understand very well that you were eager to have the letters, but then all my work would have been done in vain. The letters concern a lady who has lived in the house, and her honour was threatened as long as the letters were there. It was my fault." After giving his compliments to the medium and us for the help, the man disappeared and nobody has seen him since.

In connection with this phenomenon I will only make one remark. Formerly I used to say that I accept all the psychic phenomena except the apports, and my wife has always spoken of ghosts as dead forms without intelligence.

After this happening we cannot say that we are of the same opinion.


The article above was taken from "Transactions of the Fourth International Congress for Psychical Research. Athens 1930" published by the Society for Psychical Research on behalf of the International Congress Committee.

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