Mediums

 

Jan Guzyk
1875-1928


          POLISH MATERIALISATON medium, the son of a weaver whose strange powers first manifested in his years of apprenticeship in the tanning trade at Warsaw. There were raps, blows on the walls and a stirring of objects as soon as evening approached. At the age of 15, under the domination of M. Chlopicki, an acknowledged spiritualist, he became a professional medium.

Alexander Aksakof took him to St. Petersburg where he achieved great success. But he did not impress Julien Ochorowicz well. A critical and systematic study of his mediumship did not take place until Dr. Gustave Geley had a series of fifty sittings in Warsaw in September, 1921. All Guzyk cared for was a comfortable living. Geley became convinced of the reality of the phenomena. He witnessed the perfect materialisation of a human face, alive and speaking, and the displacement of heavy objects. He brought him to Paris for further experiments at the Institut Metapsychique. As Guzyk's phenomena only took place in complete darkness the measures to bar fraud were very strict. He was disrobed and medically examined before the sťance, put into a pyjama suit without pockets and his wrists were joined to those of the controllers by sealed ribbons. After a series of sťances during 1922-23 a very cautious report was issued. Among its 34 signatories we find the names of Geley, Eugene Osty, Roux, Moutier, Charles Richet, Santoliquido, Camille Flammarion, Rene Sudre and Sir Oliver Lodge. Only those facts are mentioned that were positively observed by all present and it ends:

"We simply affirm our conviction that the phenomena obtained with Jan Guzyk are not explicable by individual, or collective illusion or hallucination, nor by trickery."

Altogether more than eighty highly placed persons attended the sťances and, with the exception of three or four, declared themselves convinced of the genuine nature of the occurrences. Footsteps were heard passing round the circle when everyone's position was accounted for and no confederate could have entered the room. Psychic lights were seen near the sitters, they formed couples and became two eyes, with expressive and mobile pupils which regarded the sitter fixedly. A mass of cloudy matter formed around the eyes and finally took a human shape. The best manifestations occurred towards the end of the sťances, at the moment when Guzik awoke from trance.

"At such a moment (writes Rene Sudre in Psychic Research, 1928, p. 605) as he mumbled some unintelligible words, Guzyk brought my hand into contact with a hairy creature, just as somebody turned on the red light. Between the medium and myself I saw a sort of dark nebulous mass, which disappeared rapidly like a melting fog."

The apparition was what Geley termed the Pithecanthropus, an ape man with a hairy, tough skin who often licked the hands of the sitters. At other times sounds were heard as if of a materialised dog.

"These phenomena of animal materialisation," writes Rene Sudre, "may appear incredible to those who have not experienced the proof of them, but in all honesty of conscience and in all scientific equanimity it is impossible for me to make any reservation whatever against their actuality."

Sudre was once embraced by a human figure of which he hardly saw anything more than the eyes and lips. The lips were quite cold. His wife, similarly embraced, perceived an odour of alcohol. Guzyk always drank brandy before the sťances. But it was impossible for him to produce the phenomenon under the conditions of control.

In November, 1923, a series of ten sťances were held with Guzyk at the Sorbonne. The report, signed by Messrs. Langevin, Rabaud, Laugier and Meyerson states that their conviction of fraud was "complete and without reserve." The phenomena - touches and displacement of objects - were produced by Guzyk's elbows and liberated leg. Yet it does not appear from the report that he was actually caught in fraud and there are some among the facts observed which cannot be explained by the liberation of a leg.

It is a well-known fact that Guzyk was often caught in fraud. His powers were highly commercialised and he gave as many as five sťances a day. Harry Price sat with him in August 1923, in Warsaw. He found the phenomena childishly fraudulent. Professor Max Dessoir writes in Von Jenseits der Seele that he and a colleague repeatedly caught Guzyk using his foot for psychic touches and sounds. At Cracow in December, 1924, the metapsychical society took a flashlight photograph at an unexpected moment. The picture showed Guzyk with his left hand raised to the height of the curtain which he seemed to be grasping. Following these sťances M. Szczepansky wrote an article in Psychische Studien, June 1925 on "The Career and Exposure of Guzyk". He drew a sharp reply from Baron Schrenck Notzing who pointed out that the frauds of Guzyk were well known for years and they did not detract from his genuine faculties. In 1927 Dr. Walter Franklin Prince sat with Guzyk in Warsaw. In Bulletin VII of the Boston SPR he gave an entirely negative report.

Source (with minor modifications): An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934).

 

 

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