Laat me beginnen met toe te geven dat ikzelf vele jaren gefascineerd ben geweest door het mystieke en het occulte waarin de wereld van de Theosofie uit die tijd baadde. Bijna alle werken van Helena Blavatsky, Charles Webster Leadbeater, Annie Besant en consoorten, heb ik in de jaren '70 van vorige eeuw op een gretige manier verslonden. Nu, 40 jaar later, weet ik dat de inhouden van de meeste ervan op onwaarheden zijn gebaseerd, en eerder voeding zijn voor onwetende mensen en lichtgelovige breinen.
Tijd- en energieverlies zou ik het nu niet meer noemen, omdat ik - door Leugens van Waarheden te hebben kunnen onderscheiden - een hele hoop kennis en ervaringen heb opgedaan.
Enerzijds ben ik de eerste om nieuwelingen in de wereld van het zogenaamde 'spirituele' te waarschuwen voor de kwakzalvers en de Eénogen daarbuiten, maar anderzijds mag ik die mensen hun ervaringen niet afnemen. Om die reden zou ik durven schrijven: shop duchtig rond in de supermarkten van het Spirituele en het Paranormale, totdat je voor jezelf in staat bent om waarheden van onwaarheden te onderscheiden.
Wat het theosofische betreft, is het heel moeilijk om aan de lezer te 'bewijzen' hoe gestoord sommige mensen in wezen kunnen zijn, en daarenboven de producten van hun gestoordheid aan anderen trachten over te dragen. Maar, om een beginneling naar één van de meer dan 4.000 bestaande godsdiensten te verwijzen, is dan ook weeral geen goede daad, vind ik.
In vorige blog publiceerde ik iets van de hand van een zekere theosoof, Arthur Edward Powell genaamd. In hetzelfde boek maakte hij melding van het thema 'Ectoplasma'.
In Encyclopedia Spiritualia kunnen we daarover, onder andere, het volgende lezen: "Hoewel de term ectoplasma veel voorkomt in verhalen en andere media, wordt het bestaan ervan nog altijd niet erkend door de wereld van de wetenschap. Er is dus nog geen enkel wetenschappelijk experiment uitgevoerd waarbij het bestaan van ectoplasma effectief is aangetoond. Bovendien zijn veel methodes, waarmee men vroeger anderen wilde laten geloven dat ectoplasma bestaat, vals gebleken, gebaseerd op zuivere trucages."
Waar het om gaat, is het volgende: Indien je beseft welke onzin, gebaseerd op de leerstellingen van Blavatsky, die A.E. Powell in onderstaande tekst uitkraamde, kan je jezelf de vraag stellen in welke mate al de rest van wat hij schreef als geloofwaardig kan worden aanvaard. Lees dus zijn tekst, en oordeel voor jezelf...
Ectoplasm (from the Greek ektos, outside, and plasma, mould, i.e.., that which is moulded outside the human body) is a name given to the matter, mainly if not wholly etheric, which exudes from a medium, and is employed for séance-room phenomena.
The late W.J.Crawford, D.Sc., in his books (The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1916), Experiments in the Psychical Science (1918), Psychic Structures (1921) ), describes the painstaking and masterly researches he undertook into such phenomena as table-lifting, or 'levitation', and rapping. During all the experiments the medium was fully conscious.
W.J.Crawford approached the problems of table-lifting, etcetera, purely as problems of mechanics ; and, by means of force-registering appliances, both mechanical and electrical, he succeeded in discovering, by deduction from his observations, the modus operandi of the 'psychic structures' employed. At a much later stage he was able completely to verify his deductions by direct vision and by photography, as will be explained in due course.
Briefly, it was found that the ectoplasm, exuding from the medium, was prepared and shaped by the “operators” who control the production of the phenomena, into what he terms “rods”. These rods or bars are attached at one end to the medium, and at the other, by suction, to table-legs or other objects, psychic force being then applied through the rods, and tables, etc., moved in various ways, without any purely physical contact with any person present. Raps and many other noises are produced by the rods striking on floor, table, a bell, etc. By far the greater portion of the ectoplasm is usually obtained from the medium, though this is supplemented by a small portion from all, or most, of the other sitters present.
The ectoplasm can sometimes, even though quite invisible to ordinary sight, be felt. It is described as clammy, cold, reptilian, almost oily, as though the air were mixed with particles of dead and disagreeable matter.
The psychic rods issuing from the medium may vary in diameter at their extremities from ½ inch to 7 or 8 inches, and the free end of each rod seems able to assume various shapes and degrees of hardness. The end may be flat or convex, circular or oval ; it may be soft as the flesh of a baby, or as hard as iron. The body of the rod feels solid a few inches from the free end, but then becomes intangible, though it resists, pulls, pushes, shear and torque.
In this intangible portion, nevertheless, a flow of cold, spore-like particles can be felt, the flow being outwards from the medium. There appears to be reason to believe that in some cases, though not in levitations, there is a complete circulation of etheric matter out from the medium and back to her again at a different part of the body. The condition of the end of the rod as regards size and hardness can be varied on demand. The larger rods are usually fairly soft at the end, the smaller ones only becoming dense and hard.
W.J. Crawford considers it probable that the rods consist of a bundle of fine threads, intimately connected and adhering to one another. The psychic force passes along the threads, stiffening the whole structure into a rigid girder, which can then be moved as desired by forces applied within the body of the medium.
Certain experiments seem to indicate that the end of a rod consists of a thick and more or less elastic film or skin, stretched over a thin, somewhat serrated, elastic frame. The elasticity of the film is limited, and if too highly stressed the film may rupture, leaving the serrated frame
The fact that an electroscope can be discharged by being touched by a rod indicates that the rod acts as a conductor of high tension electricity, discharging to earth through the medium’s body to which it is attached. On the other hand, a rod placed across the terminals of a bell circuit does not cause the bell to ring, thus showing that it offers high resistance to low-tension current.
White light usually destroys rod formations : even rays reflected from a surface on which psychic force is exerted interfere with the phenomena. Red light, however, if not too strong, does not appear to injure the psychic structure, neither does light emanating from luminous paint which has been exposed for some hours to sunlight.
Usually the structures are quite invisible, though occasionally glimpses of them may be obtained. The structures have been successfully photographed by flashlight, but great care must be taken not to injure the medium. The shock to the medium when the flashlight impinges on the ectoplasm is much greater when the structure is under stress than when it is not stressed.
The large number of photographs taken confirm in every detail the conclusions arrived at by deduction from the phenomena themselves.
The rigidity of a rod varies with the amount of light to which it is subjected, the hard end being, as it were, partially melted when exposed to light.
In the case of objects being moved by psychic force there are two principal methods employed. In the first, one or more rods are projected from the medium, very frequently from the feet or ankles, sometimes from the lower part of the trunk, and are attached direct to the object to be moved, thus forming cantilevers. When tables are moved horizontally, the rods would usually be attached to the table-legs ; where they are lifted into the air, the rod or rods are often spread out like a mushroom at the ends and attached to the under surface of the table.
In the second method, the rod or rods projecting from the medium are attached to the floor, and from the point of attachment they are continued to the object to be moved, thus forming no longer a cantilever but something similar to a lever of the “First Order,” the Fulcrum being between the Weight and the Power.
Rods may be either straight or curved. They may also be held suspended in the air in a rigid condition, thus showing that they do not require to be pressing on material bodies in order to remain rigid.
In the case of the cantilever method, the whole of the mechanical stress is transferred to the medium ; or, more accurately, the greater portion to the medium, and a much smaller portion to the sitters. This can be ascertained by ordinary mechanical appliances, such as weighing machines and spring balances. If a table is levitated, for example, by means of a cantilever, the weight of the medium will be increased by about 95% of the weight of the table, and that of the other sitters proportionately.
When, on the other hand, the rods are attached to the floor, the weight of a levitated table is transmitted direct to the floor, and the medium’s weight, instead of being increased, is decreased, the decrease being due to the weight of the ectoplasm forming the rod, one end of which rests on the floor.
When force is transmitted along a rod in order to hold an object, such as a table, firmly to the floor, the weight of the medium has been observed to be reduced by as much as 35 ½ lbs. On another occasion, when the ectoplasmic structure was not stressed, the weight of the medium has been reduced by 54 ½ lbs., nearly half the normal weight of the medium.
Cantilevers are usually employed to move or lift light objects, but for heavy objects or for the transmission of great force, the rod or rods are attached to the floor. Often a force approximating to a hundred weight is exerted.
During levitation of objects the stress on the medium is often apparent in the stiffness, and even iron-like rigidity of the muscles, principally of the arms, but also of the whole muscular system. Later in his investigations, however, W.J.Crawford found that the muscular rigidity had apparently entirely disappeared.
The production of these phenomena appears to result in a permanent loss of weight, both of mediums and sitters, but only to the extent of a few ounces. The sitters may lose more weight than the medium.
As a rule, the placing of any material object within the space occupied by a rod, immediately breaks the line of communication, destroying the rod, as a rod. A thin object, however, such as a pencil, may be passed through the vertical portion of a rod with impunity, but not through the portion between the medium and the table. Interference with this portion may cause physical injury to the medium.
In order to make it possible for a rod to touch or adhere to, e.g.., a floor or table, the end of the rod has to be specially prepared, being made denser than the rest of the rod. The process appears to be troublesome, or at least to consume time and force ; consequently the gripping portions of a structure are always kept to the minimum.
The method of gripping by suction, as can easily be demonstrated by soft clay, referred to below. Sometimes the “suckers” can be heard slipping over the surface of wood, or taking new grips.
Many instances, as well as photographs, are given by W.J.Crawford, of impressions on putty or soft clay, produced by impact of rods. These impressions are often covered with marks similar to the fabric of the medium’s stockings. The resemblance, however, is superficial, it being impossible to produce such impressions by actually pressing a stockinged foot on to the clay. The impression made by the rod is much sharper than can be obtained by ordinary means, and is such as could be obtained if a fine viscous material were to cover the stocking fabric, to harden, and then to be pressed on the clay.
Further, the stocking marks may be greatly modified ; the delicate pattern and tracery of the threads may be distorted, thickened, partly covered over, or broken, though still remaining recognisable as that of the stocking fabric. The deduction is that the ectoplasm is at first in a state like that of a semi-liquid : that it oozes through and round the holes in the fabric and partly sets on the outside of the stocking. It is of a glutinous, fibrous nature, and takes almost the exact form of the fabric. It is then pulled off the stocking and built round the end of the rod.
For a large impression, the skin is thickened and strengthened by the addition of more materialising matter, and thus the original imprint may be twisted, distorted, or partially obliterated.
Similarly, finger impressions may be made by a rod, though these may be different in size from normal ones, and may be much more clearly and regularly cut than would be possible with ordinary finger impressions.
Raps, ranging from the slightest taps to blows of sledgehammer strength, as well as many other sounds, are produced by semi-flexible rods, with suitably prepared ends, being struck against material objects. The production of raps is accompanied by decrease of the medium’s weight, the amount of decrease, which may be as much as 20 lbs. – or more, being apparently directly proportional to the intensity of the rap. The reason is apparent : the rods being formed of matter from the medium’s body, the striking of such matter on the floor, etc., necessarily transfers some of the medium’s total weight through the rod to the floor. The loss of weight is temporary only, being restored when the material of the rods returns to the medium.
The production of raps causes a mechanical reaction on the medium, as though she were being pushed backwards or struck. This reaction may cause her to make slight motions with her feet. The stress on the medium, however, is nothing like that caused by the levitation of objects.
Heavy blows, produced by a large rod, are not usually delivered quickly. Light raps, however, usually produced by two or more thin rods, may be produced with incredible rapidity, the “operators” appearing to have great command over the rods.
In general, the production of these phenomena throws stress on all the sitters, as is apparent by spasmodic jerks, sometimes quite severe, which go round the whole circle previous to levitation. It would appear that the process of loosening and removing etheric matter from the bodies of the sitters takes place in jerks, and, to some extent, affects them altogether.
W.J.Crawford reports that an entity, purporting to have been whilst alive a medical man, and so to speak through the medium (on this occasion entranced for the purpose), stated that there are two kinds of substance used in the production of phenomena. One is taken in comparatively large quantities from the medium and sitters, all, or nearly all, being returned to them at the close of a séance . The other can be obtained only from the medium, and as it consists of the most vital material from the interior of her nerve-cells, it can be taken only in minute quantities without injury to the medium. Its structure is broken up by the phenomena, and therefore it cannot be returned to the medium. This statement has not been verified or confirmed in any way and is given purely on its merits.
W.J. Crawford devised and used with great success the “staining method” of tracing the movements of ectoplasm. Ectoplasm possessing the property of adhering strongly to such a substance as powdered carmine, the latter is placed in its path, when a coloured track will be found. By this means, it was discovered that ectoplasm issues from and returns to the lower part of the trunk of the medium. It has considerable consistency , for it has a strong tearing action on the stockings and of other clothing and will sometimes pull out whole threads, several inches long, from a stocking, carry, and deposit the same in a vessel of clay placed some distance from the medium’s feet.
The ectoplasm follows a path down the legs and enters the shoes, passing between stocking and shoe, wherever there is space. If it has picked up dye on its way it will deposit this at any place where foot, stocking and shoe are in close contact, i.e.., where there is not sufficient room for it to pass.
The solidification, as well as the de-materialisation, of the hard end of a rod is effected immediately the rod issues from the medium’s body. For this reason, the free end of the rod, unless it be one of the thinnest, cannot penetrate closely woven cloth, or even wire netting of 1 inch mesh, if placed more than an inch or two in front of the medium. If such screens, however, are very close to the medium’s body, an imperfect materialisation of the end of the rod may take place and limited psychic phenomena may occur.
The evolution of ectoplasm from the body of a medium is accompanied by strong muscular movements all over the body, and the fleshy parts of the body, especially from the waist downwards, become reduced in size, as though the flesh had caved in.
W.J. Crawford is convinced that in the production of séance-room phenomena there are at least two substances employed : (1) a component, forming the basic part of the psychic structure, which is invisible, impalpable, and generally outside the range of physical things altogether, and (2) a whitish, transparent, nebulous substance, mixed with (1) in order to enable (1) to act on physical matter ; (2) he considers, is in all probability identical with the material used in materialisation phenomena.
Many phenomena of materialisation are described, with that scrupulous and minute attention to detail so characteristic of German investigators, in a large work entitled Phenomena of Materialisation, by Baron von Schrenck Notzing (1913), and translated by E.E. Fournier d’Albe, D.Sc.(1920).
In addition, to elaborate descriptions of large numbers of séances and phenomena, there are given some 200 photographs of materialised forms, or apparitions of many kinds, ranging from threads or masses of ectoplasm to fully-formed faces. The main conclusions may be epitomised as follows. These are taken largely, for convenience, from a lecture on “Supranormal Physiology and the Phenomena of Ideoplastics,” by Dr. Gustave Geley, a Paris psychologist and physician, which is printed at the end of baron Notzing’s book.
From the body of the medium there emanates a substance which at first is amorphous or polymorphous. It may appear as ductile dough, a true protoplasmic mass, a kind of shaking jelly, simple lumps, thin threads, cords, narrow rigid rays, a broad band, a membrane, fabric, woven material or net with fringes and rucks.
The thread – or fibre-like nature of the substance has frequently been observed. It maybe white, black or grey, sometimes all three appearing together : white is perhaps the most frequent. It appears to be luminous.
Usually it seems to be odourless, though sometimes it may have a peculiar smell, impossible to describe. There seems no doubt that it is subject to the influence of gravity.
To the touch, it may be moist and cold, viscous and sticky, more rarely dry and hard. When expanded it is soft and slightly elastic, when formed as cords it is hard, knotty and fibrous. It may feel like a spider’s web passing over the hand : the threads are both rigid and elastic. It is mobile, with a creeping, reptilian motion, though sometimes it moves suddenly and quickly. A draught may set it in motion. Touching it produces a painful reaction on the medium. It is extremely sensitive and appears and disappears with lightning rapidity. It is usually sensitive to light, though sometimes the phenomena will withstand full daylight. Flashlight photographs of it can be taken, though the flash acts like a sudden blow on the medium.
During the production of the phenomena the cabinet, containing the medium, is usually in darkness, but the curtains are frequently drawn aside, and outside the cabinet, red light is used, and sometimes even white light up to 100 candlepower.
The substance has an irresistible tendency towards organisation. It assumes many forms, sometimes indefinite and non-organised, but most frequently organic. Fingers, including nails, all perfectly modelled, complete hands, faces, and other shapes may be formed. The substance emanates from the whole body of the medium, but especially from the natural orifices and extremities, from the top of the head, the breasts, and the fingertips. The most usual origin, and most easily observed, is the mouth, the inner surface of the cheeks, the gums and the roof.
The materialised forms have a certain independence, a hand, for example, being able to move its fingers and grasp the hand of the observer, though sometimes the human skin seems to repel the phantoms. The structures are sometimes smaller than in nature, being really miniatures. The back of the materialisations has been observed to be without organic form, being merely a mass of amorphous substance, the forms containing a minimum of substance necessary to make them appear real.The forms may disappear very gradually, fading away, or almost instantaneously. During the whole time it is clear that the forms are in physiological and psychical connection with the medium, the sensation reflex of the structures coalescing with that of the medium. Thus, a pin inserted into the substance would cause pain to the medium.
It seems that the substance can be influenced both by the general direction and the subjectmatter of the thoughts of the sitters. In addition, the medium usually in the hypnotic state, is exceedingly open to the influence of suggestion.
Pieces of materialised forms have been seized in a porcelain dish and retained. On one occasion, when examined afterwards, two pieces of skin were found which, under the microscope, were recognised as human. On another occasion, 3 or 4 c.c. of a transparent liquid, without air bubbles, were found. Analysis revealed a colourless, slightly turbid, nonviscous, odourless liquid, slightly alkaline, with a whitish precipitate. The microscope disclosed the components of cell detritus and saliva, the substance evidently originating from the mouth.
On yet another occasion, a bundle of hair, not in any way resembling the darker hair of the medium, was found, the hand of the observer being covered with mucus and moisture. In addition, fragments of other substances are sometimes found, such as face powder or shreds of the mediums clothing.
Extract from: 'The Etheric Double - The Health Aura of Man' - A.E. Powell