Chemical Phenomena (in Séances)
Psychic phenomena of a chemical nature have often been
reported to occur in séance rooms. Psychic light is one of the
strangest chemical manifestations as it is cold, and its production
defies human ingenuity.
Some alleged examples of chemical phenomena include instances
where blood was drawn without a break in the skin; during
materialization, ozone and phosphorus were often smelled
and fully materialized phantoms exhaled carbon dioxide; a
lead whistle often melted during sittings with Frau Silbert;
phantoms dissolved into a cloud of smoke or black vapor in the
house of Charles L. Tweedale; Admiral Moore’s ink in his bottle
was changed to dirty water in a séance with the Bangs sisters;
and in a sitting with David Duguid the color of a glass of
water changed to the hue of wine and tasted as bitter as gall.
The book Supramundane Facts in The Life of The Rev. J. Babcock
Ferguson (1865), edited by T. Nichols, states that the little
daughter of J. B. Ferguson, under a strange spell, ordered a
clean tea cup and a silver spoon. She commenced stirring the
spoon in the empty cup and subjected it, after a time, to the observation
of each person present. Then, returning to the center
of the room in about five minutes, she presented the cup with
over a teaspoonful of dark and odorous ointment with which
she anointed the face of a gentleman of the house. He was suffering
from neuralgia and professed to have received immediate
Tosie Osanami, a Japanese medium who died in 1907, was
famous for similar medical miracles. According to a statement
by Wasaburo Asano, a Japanese researcher, quoted by Harry
Price in Psychic Research (a journal of the American Society for
Psychical Research) in 1928, she produced liquid medicine
within empty glass bottles
‘‘Her patients would come and ask for medicine and present
their own bottles. These bottles she would place in front of her
family shrine. She would then kneel down before it and offer
up prayers according to the Shinto rites for about ten minutes.
When the prayers were ended the patients would see the bottles
spontaneously fill with liquids of different colors according to
the nature of the malady. Red, blue and orange were the most
usual colors of these medicinal apports. . . . Accused of being
a swindler, she was tried in the District Court of Kobe. In court,
however, before the judge and jury she succeeded in producing
a brown liquid in an empty bottle that had been sealed previously
by the court. Speechless with astonishment, the court acquitted
In the case of Mary Jobson, water sprang up unaccountably
through the floor and was sprinkled in the room. Previously a
voice was heard calling upon the angels to perform the demonstration.
Such water sprinkling is frequently observed in poltergeist
cases. Thomas P. Barkas published an account of interesting
observations in the British newspaper Newcastle Chronicle in
1874. He witnessed water production in a private séance circle
in both the dark and the daylight. During the séance a planchette
and the surface of the table were covered, in less than a
minute, by water drops. He placed his hat, crown downward
near the center of the table and placed a sheet of clean paper
in the hat. In three minutes it was found covered with waterdrops.
Another time, he and his fellow experimenters tried the
height at which the water fell by holding a large piece of paper
at an elevation. Drops fell under the paper only until it was lowered
eighteen inches. At that height they formed on the sheet.
The experiment took place in broad daylight.
Seven sitters of Mme. L. Ignath fervently prayed, on the
control’s instruction, before a picture of the Madonna of Sixtin,
after which tears appeared in the eyes of the portrait and ran
down the painted cheeks (Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie, June
Reports of chemical phenomena in séance rooms must be
treated with caution. A smell like phosphorus may indeed indicate
the presence of that chemical, but it may have been introduced
by a fake medium. The true facts of some of the remarkable
phenomena claimed in cases from past history may never
be found, and skepticism should be used in measuring past
claims in light of modern experiment and investigation.