BRILLIANT and varied physical and mental trance products were fully displayed on May 12, 1929, when a very unusual mass, later called the 'strut' teleplasm, was obtained. Present at that
sťance were Dr. and Mrs. E. A. Brown of Boston, colleagues of Dr. L.R.G. Crandon. Here are the abridged
"Group personnel: W.B. Cooper, Elizabeth M., Dr. T.G.H.; Miss Ada Turner, H.A. Reed, W.E. Hobbs, Ewan, L. Hamilton, Dr. L.A.H., Mary M., Dr. E.A. Brown seated in front of the table inside the circle, facing Mary M. At the back of the room outside the circle were Mrs. E. A. Brown, A.C. Whittaker, M. Hamilton, secretary.
After the usual Elizabeth M. trance phenomena, Mary M. and Elizabeth M. change places, Mary M. now in the cabinet with
J.A.H. on her right and W.B.C. on her left. T.G.H. and Whittaker open the cameras. Elizabeth describes her visions. At 9.30 the 'direct voice' says 'Good evening'. It is faint and difficult to hear unless one is close to the medium. At 9.33 the bell-box rings and continues to ring on and off, short and long rings intermixed. At 9.37 a light moves about the cabinet. It seems to be about the height of Mary M.'s head, and varies in intensity from a soft glow to a bright light. No surrounding details are illuminated by the light at any time. It disappears at 9.38.
Walter-Mary M.: 'Good evening. What's the matter?'
The medium fusses, inhales and exhales rapidly (9.40). A few moments' silence, and Elizabeth M. says that she can see Walter clairvoyantly. At 9.45 the bell rings. The 'direct voice' says it is no good.
Walter-Mary M.: 'My, but you're solemn!' (To Dr. Brown.)
Dr. B.: 'I'm enjoying myself! I'm not solemn!'
Walter-Mary M.: 'That's fine! Are you surprised to see me here?'
Dr. B.: 'Well, rather.'
Walter-Mary M.: 'You must understand that I am working with different clay here.'
Dr. B.: 'Exactly.'
Walter-Mary M.: 'If I could get that jackrabbit over there I would talk! ' (Indicating Ewan.)
More rings at 10.10. The medium stands. Ewan's arms are moving rhythmically. Walter speaks, regretting the difficulties of getting good results. At 10.48 Mary M. and Ewan move their limbs a good deal. Mary M. sits down. At 10.52
J.A.H. and W.B.C. report that they are passing their hands, which are holding the medium's hands, over her face, eyes, down past her nose. Both declare they feel nothing.
Dr. B.: 'I have explored her face thoroughly and can find nothing on it.'
Walter-Mary M.: 'Repeat the signal,' (arranged at previous meetings).
T.G.H.: 'Three taps with the medium's foot, then fire on the fourth.'
The medium's foot taps three times, and on the fourth the flash is fired at 10.54.
Dr. Brown remarks that it is a very fast flash.
Walter-Mary M. says that the photograph will show a piece of teleplasm on the medium's left eye; no face in it.
At 11.01 a light is seen in the cabinet; it appears at the medium's left shoulder as she leans forward. The light is very close to Dr. B. and T.G.H. Controllers report no movement of the medium's arms when the light is moving.
T.G.H.: 'You are expending too much energy when showing the light?'
Walter-Mary M.: 'Yes, very much. It's worn out. We will have to store more. I'll take it from that big stiff there.' (Ewan.)
Sitting closes at 11.06."
|Plate 8: The
"strut" teleplasm of May 12, 1932.
As in earlier experiments, Walter again had made careful arrangements for examining the medium prior to an exposure. The signal was consistent with that of earlier sittings. Plate 8 shows the mass to be lying, not on her eye, as Walter had stated after the flash had been fired, but on the left cheek near the eye. While it is impossible to prove his statements, it is worth noting that Walter claimed to have control of the source of the teleplasm, to be responsible for the psychic light, and to direct the bell-ringing phenomenon.
Very likely the medium's mouth is the exit point of the teleplasm, which passes as a thin column up to an amorphous mass on the left cheek. Plates from the two stereo cameras shown the plasm to be slightly separated from the medium's skin. This suggests that the mass gained support in some way other than by adhesion. Closer examination reveals a 'strut' of black, bristle-like material, extending from the middle of the cheek upwards into the main mass. The terminus of the strut appears to be too thin to give a 'pillar' or mushroom' type of support. The strut's position suggests that it may have given direct support to the plasm by the merging of the constitution and the properties of the two types of substances. This leads one to surmise that the mass' support may have resulted from adhesion of the two opposed plasmic types at their points of contact within the mass
Masses which may have properties similar to those exemplified in the 'strut' were the so-called 'cords' which were discovered in three photographs taken when the bell-box was ringing, at the
sťances of June 4, August 5, and September 23, 1928. The circumstances of these
sťances were so controlled as to establish unquestionably the supernormality of these phenomena. Here are Dr. Hamilton's notes for August 5,
"Mary M. passed into trance, and in a few moments Walter came through using the automatic voice. He said he could not expend his energy using the direct voice if we wished a picture. He gave us our choice. We decided in favour of the photograph, and the control said he would try. I then discussed with him the bell-box signal. It was agreed that the control would give six rings, then two, and I would take the photograph on a single ring following the signal, that is, I was to 'fire' on the ninth ring.
In a short time the bell, having given a few preliminary try-outs, gave the six rings at intervals of about three-quarters of a second. Then followed a pause of about ten seconds, then two rings, and again a pause of about ten seconds. Then came the ring for the flash. I allowed the ring to last about two seconds before making the exposure, and it continued to ring for fully two seconds after.
|Plate 9: The twisted
mass and bell cords of August 5, 1928.
In this experiment I used four lenses: one quartz, one wide-angle, and two Goerz stereo. Plate 9 shows the result: a twisted plasmic mass of purest white attached to Mary M.'s left nostril and left cheek, and extending well down to the shoulder level; and a cord from the margin of the mass on the left cheek, leading straight to the corner of the bell-box nearest the medium. This cord appears to be dark in colour. In the picture taken with the quartz lens it is visible for almost its entire reach up to the box.
The glass lenses register the lower part of the cord fairly plainly where it can be seen emerging from the upper section of the plasm and passing by the left eye and left temple. The upper part of the cord is less distinct. Under magnification a second cord is also visible.
We also noticed that the bell rang during and after the flash; consequently we felt justified in assuming that the teleplasmic energy was sustained throughout.
The medium was rather badly affected by this experiment. She reported to us subsequently that she had vomited up some froth about two hours after the
On September 23, 1928, the bell was used again to give the flashlight signal. Following the exposure Dr. Hamilton asked Walter to tell what the picture would show. Walter
"Oh, not much. Just a little ectoplasm coming from the left eye and nostril, very small and thin. I required more for my light. I can take only a little from the body just
Given now in part is Dr. Hamilton's description of this
|Plate 10: The mass and
bell cords of September 23, 1928.
"I developed the plates - two stereo, one quartz and one rectilinear, six lenses in all; and in the Goerz stereo plate (Plate 10) we find some wonderfully clear detail. We see a dark line running from the medium's mouth, up and over the right cheek and temple. If this is closely followed, it is seen to pass obliquely upward to the upper section of the corner of the bell-box, where it disappears over the top of the depression lid. Close to where the cord passes will be noted a darkish area on the near edge of the lid. Under high magnification this dark mass is seen to be composed of numerous coils of a thread-like nature.
From below the bottom of the box at its distant end there may also be seen distinctly a fine dark somewhat tortuous second cord, which passes downward and outward until it disappears in the shadow behind the medium's head.
It will be noticed that in this experiment the cords and the bell-box used are to the right of the medium, while on August 5 the bell-box and cords were to the left. Here, I think, we have additional proof that there is a very definite connection between the phenomenon of bell-ringing and the presence of teleplasmic
There is marked contrast in structure between the substance forming the bell-cords, and the material of the non-differentiated plasms. The white plasms were apparently made up of individual compactable fibres. The bell cord appeared as a dark continuous thread-like substance which apparently was able to extend itself for distances of at least four feet from the medium. The properties of the two substances appeared to be entirely unrelated.
The bell cord substance must also have been strongly adhesive to the wood of the bell-box in order to transmit the force necessary to depress the over-lid. The source of this force was unknown. It is highly improbable that the depression of the bell-box lid was achieved by a nodding motion of the medium's head, for any such action would have been reported at once by those who were constantly observing and checking her movements. No such action was revealed by the flashlight
photographs(3). As with other teleplasmic phenomena, it is more likely that the basis of the bell ringing lay in the
idea and the will manifesting behind the phenomenon, and in the ideoplastic properties of the bell-cord itself. One of the simplest and at the same time the most plausible suggestions one can offer is that the cord had an ideo-responsive ability to extend and to contract. A decrease in its length would then depress the over-lid of the bell-box, thus closing the circuit and causing the bell to ring. This aspect of 'extensibility' may throw some light on the 'strut' of Section
1, for an extension of this type implies an increased resistance to longitudinal compression, and such quasi-rigidity would have allowed the strut to support the teleplasm.
Morphological similarities were suspected between the bell-cords and the so-called 'direct voice' mechanism. We will now compare photographs of the bell-cords with the one photograph obtained of a plasm which Walter claimed to be the means of the 'direct voice'.
Concerning the 'voice' itself, it was first heard coming from a point near the medium in June 1928. It was then weak in volume, hoarse in quality, and poor in diction. It improved greatly until by November 14 it was able to give clear directions regarding control and examination of the medium prior to the photographing of the first miniature face-teleplasm. It has never been rigorously established that the voice was entirely independent of the medium's larynx by any method such as that used by
Crandon(4) and others in their investigations of the Margery voice phenomena.
|Plate 11a and 11b:
The 'direct' voice mechanism of Jul 10, 1929.
The 'direct voice' phenomenon occurred very seldom in the Hamilton work. Walter-Mary M. claimed that since it took considerable 'power' to produce the voice-mechanism, he deliberately chose to use the 'voice' sparingly, since he needed the 'power' to produce the teleplasms. At the same time he often said that he preferred the voice method of communication for psychological reasons, on the grounds that it gave him a means of conveying his own ideas uncoloured by the personality and intellectual traits of the medium.
Plate 11a shows the so-called 'voice-box' or 'talking machine'. This exposure was made unexpectedly at the request of the voice itself. While it is impossible to offer any clear evidence that this structure actually did make intelligible sounds, some manner of organization into a conchoidal or bell-shaped form is apparent. It seems to be made of numerous strands of dark material. It may be that the fibres of the 'voice-box' and the fibres of the bell-cords were similar in constitution. Had it been possible to determine that these strands had an ability to expand and contract the structure, such a discovery would have served to strengthen the assumption that this form did make the sounds and utter the words which the entire group heard many
Reference was made to a 'psychic light' in the first section of this chapter. While data concerning it are slight, it must be mentioned.
Both Geley and Crandon had reported supernormal lights, visible to all the sitters. Discussing the growth and changes in teleplasms, Geley stated that the substance was 'apt to give off light, the forms being somewhat luminous in whole or in
part'(5). Geley does not make it clear whether he regarded the phenomenon to be one of self-luminescence, or to be a fluorescence, due to whatever light he may have been using at the time.
In the Mary M. experiments the light was apparently self-luminescent, and it appeared to be produced at Walter's will. Its luminosity was variable: at times it was but a dull glow, at others the glow would increase within the space of a moment or two until it had the intensity of a brightly illuminated watch dial. It never displayed any ability to light up nearby objects. Its source seemed to be about one foot from the medium's body, and its height varied from a few inches above the floor to a point about level with the seated medium's head. It was capable of moving very rapidly. Dr. Hamilton speculated that the light probably issued from the surface of a flat disc-like formation about an inch and a half in diameter, at the end of a teleplasmic extrusion coming from the medium's body. Unfortunately this was never confirmed by photography. It was an assumption based on comments by the sitters. Some could see it quite clearly, while at the same time others could not see it at all. This suggests that its positioning was directional, and that only its frontal surface was capable of self-luminosity.
Lights of this type did not occur as an adjunct to the production of teleplasm.
(1) T. G. Hamilton,
"Teleplasmic Phenomena", Psychic Science, Vol. VIII, No. 3, p. 194 (October
(2) T. G. Hamilton, loc. cit., p. 197. Back
(3) T. G. Hamilton, loc. cit., p. 190. Back
(4) In the Winnipeg experiments the 'direct' or 'independent' voice manifested only when the medium was in deep trance. This made it impossible to test the independence of the 'voice' by the use of a device such as the Richardson Voice-Cut-Out Machine, used to establish the 'direct voice' which was so outstanding a feature of the Margery mediumship in Boston in the 1930's. Dr. Mark W. Richardson, one of the investigators of the Margery phenomena, invented this apparatus. It consisted of a U-tube about 30 inches high, each arm partially filled with liquid on the surface of which rested a luminous float. The medium and the sitter blew into individual mouth-pieces connected by small hoses to the two columns of liquid, in order to hold the floats in a position of disequilibrium. The glass tip of the mouth-piece had to be held firmly by the teeth, and the three holes in the glass tip had to be covered by the lips and the tongue. With the vocal apparatus so engaged, neither medium nor sitter could speak. While Margery was in a normal state she was frequently tested in this way by many visiting investigators (including Dr. Hamilton). While Margery used the Voice-Cut-Out apparatus, her main control "Walter" spoke and whistled
T. G. Hamilton, Proceedings, A.S.P.R., 1926, Vol. II, p. 566.
L.R.G. Crandon, "The Margery Mediumship", Fig. 6. From "The Case For and Against Psychical
Belief", edited by Carl Murchison (Clark University, Worcester, Mass., 1927) pp. 90, 91.
R. J. Tillyard, D.Sc., M.A., F.R.S., Journal, A.S.P.R., Vol. XX, No. 12, Dec. 1926. Also, Nature,
(5) Geley, op. cit., p. 180, p. 338 ff. Back