Mrs Smead

          pseudonym of Mrs. Willis M. Cleaveland, wife of an American preacher to whom Prof. James Hyslop's attention was invited in December, 1901. Mrs. Smead occasionally practised planchette writing from her childhood and began systematic experiments in 1895. They kept records of the communications received and put them at Prof. Hyslop's disposal. He was impressed that both Mr. and Mrs. Smead were honest, conscientious people. The communicators claimed to be the deceased children of the couple and a deceased brother of Mr. Smead's. Their identity was very plausible.

The curious feature of Mrs. Smead's mediumship began to develop when, in August, 1895, several references were made to the planet Mars and Jupiter. A short time before, an article by Prof. Lowell was published in the Atlantic Monthly on the canals of the Planet Mars. It may have had something to do with the new variety of phenomena in which Jupiter played an additional but minor part. A crude map of Jupiter's surface was given and the planet was said to be the "babies' heaven." At the next sitting the map of Mars was drawn, the different zones were named in Martian and several communications were given about the inhabitants and the canals. There followed then an incubation period of five years during which no Martian revelations were granted. In September, 1900, the communications returned in a developed state. Men, boats, houses, flowers were drawn, named in Martian and written in hieroglyphic characters. Some of the sketches, i.e., the self-winding double clock, were very ingenious, others, like the Martian airship, peculiar but unconvincing.

A curious coincidence with Mlle. Helen Smith's Martian drawings appeared in the sketch of an observatory with a tunnel in it. In general, according to Prof. Theodore Flournoy's review in Spiritism and Psychology:

"the Martian revelations of Mrs. Smead present the same character of puerility and naive imagination as those of Mlle. Smith."

He cannot but think that the psychological explanation is at basis the same. Prof. Flournoy's book was in the house but it was carefully kept from the medium. The number of Martian scripts went on increasing when a new personality, calling himself Harrison Clark, abruptly came on the scene and shut out all other communicators. He showed great facility in inverted and mirror writing and gave his autobiography which, however, proved to be spurious. When he was confronted by Prof. Hyslop with the findings of his investigation he began "a battle of intellectual sparring and defiance which perhaps has hardly its equal in the annals of secondary personality."

For a considerable time Prof. Hyslop attributed all the communications to a secondary personality, though the communicators gave more plausibility to the spiritistic explanation than in the case of Mlle. Helen Smith. In this view he was confirmed by opinions of Mrs. Piper's controls. They sent a message to Prof. Hyslop that he should be wary.

"The so-called light as seen by us is not a light given from our world at all, but the conditions are hypocritic and fanciful."

Later, however, the mediumship improved, scraps and bits of supernormal information came through and though at first Prof. Hyslop only classified the case as an intermediate one between Helen Smith and Mrs. Piper, later he surrendered his hesitations and admitted the existence of genuinely supernormal phenomena beyond question.

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



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