Miller, Charles Victor (d. 1943)
Materialization medium of San Francisco, born in Nancy,
France. By profession he was a dealer in old pictures and Japanese
art. Author Willie Reichel claimed to have witnessed many
of Miller’s performances. For example, Miller did not go into
trance as a séance started. He stood outside the cabinet from
which a procession of phantoms issued. Miller took them by the
hand, asked their names, and introduced them to the sitters.
Later he went into the cabinet, where he was seen with as many
as six white robed figures. They came out one by one, spoke to
the sitters, and usually dematerialized in front of the cabinet,
sinking through the floor.
Although the materialization of figures suggests fraud and
accomplices rather than genuine psychic phenomena, the variety
of Miller’s phenomena, the certainty of the witnesses, and
the lack of a competent observer leaves the question somewhat
open. On one occasion Reichel’s nephew disappeared by floating
upward through the ceiling. Miller was normally under the
control of the spirits ‘‘Betsy’’ and ‘‘Dr. Benton.’’
The highest number of materialized spirits Reichel claimed
to have seen in a séance was 12. The medium was conscious and
kept talking. The phantoms spoke in various languages and
many were recognized by the sitters. Once, in Reichel’s own
house, a materialized spirit walked out into the hall, a distance
of 35 feet from the medium.
In the journal Psychische Studien (February 1904), Reichel
described a séance at which a deceased friend of his materialized
eight times, very near to him, at a distance of over three
yards from the medium. Reichel stated ‘‘He drew near me like
a floating flame, which lowered itself, and in the space of about
a minute and a half developed and stood before me quite
formed. He held long conversations with me; then, retiring to
the curtain, where I followed him, he dematerialised, speaking
up to the moment when his head disappeared.’’
Reichel also witnessed rotating white and blue flames from
which voices spoke to him, giving their complete names. In one
séance the medium was completely dematerialized and transported
to the first floor.
Miller made two visits to Europe. When he first arrived in
1906, much criticism was directed against him because he
mostly sat with Spiritists (see Spiritism) and avoided researchers
such as Eugene Rochas, with whom he had corresponded,
and a circle of scientists who had arranged to test him scientifically.
However, psychic researcher Gabriel Delanne concluded
that the apparitions were genuine. Gaston Méry, chief editor
of the Libre Parole and director of the Echo du Merveilleux (which
was not a Spiritist journal) admitted that it was highly probable
that the phenomena he witnessed were genuine but ‘‘until
there is fuller information we must be satisfied with not comprehending.’’
The séance took place in Méry’s house in a room
Miller did not enter before the proceedings. Moreover, he was
completely undressed in the presence of three doctors and
donned Méry’s own garments.
Gérard Encausse (‘‘Papus’’) also attended a séance and stated
in L’Initiation that his expectation was fully satisfied and that
Miller displayed ‘‘mediumistic faculties more extraordinary
than he had hitherto encountered.’’
From Paris, Miller went on to Germany and gave many test
séances in Munich at private residences. The accounts appear
to corroborate Reichel’s observations. The materialized form
was often seen to develop from luminous globes and clouds that
first appeared near the ceiling. If several forms were materialized
at the same time, they were transparent. It often happened
that at the end of the séance Miller was violently thrown out of
the cabinet, yet he suffered no injury.
On his way back to the United States, Miller again visited
Paris and gave a few more séances. According to Charles Richet,
he would not accept the conditions imposed. Four of his
séances were reported in the Annals of Psychic Science (vol. 4,
1906). Psychic researcher Count Cesar de Vesme, who attended
the last séance, objected to not having been given an adequate
opportunity to form a well-founded judgment and noted
‘‘A white ball, as of gas, about a quarter of a yard in diameter
appeared in the air at the upper extremity of the curtains. Finally
it came down, rested on the floor, and in less than a minute,
changing into a long shape, was transformed into a draped
human form, which subsequently spoke’’ (Annals of Psychic Science,
vol. 4, no. 21, 1906). The séance, however, was not sufficient
to enable de Vesme to arrive at a definite opinion as to
the genuineness of the manifestations.
In 1908 Miller paid another visit to Paris. On June 25, in the
presence of 40 persons, a very successful séance was held at the
house of a Mrs. Noeggerath under test conditions. The control
committee consisted of one Mr. Benezech, Gaston Méry, Cesar
de Vesme, and Charles Blech, secretary of the Theosophical
Society. The medium was disrobed, medically examined, and
put into black garments that were furnished by the committee
and had neither lining nor pockets. Numerous phantom
shapes evolved and disappeared.
Cesar de Vesme, however, remained unconvinced. In the
Annals of Psychic Science (vol. 7, 1908), he complained that in the
series of séances he attended in almost complete darkness, Miller
never allowed the control of his right hand. Sitting on the
left side of the cabinet, he could have used his right hand to introduce
a white drapery, which he could have manipulated as
a small phantom in the course of materialization. He had only
been searched in a single séance when 40 people were present.
There was no telling whether the drapery might not have been
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Miller, Charles Victor
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passed to him by one of the sitters. Leon Denis, Baron de Watteville,
Charles Blech, de Fremery (director of the Het Toekomstig
Leven, The Hague), Paul Leymarie (director of the Reuve
Spirite), M. W. Bormann (director of Die Übersinnliche Welt), and
Joseph Maxwell shared de Vesme’s opinion. Of Miller’s public
séances no more was heard after this Paris series.
Miller died on November 1, 1943 in New York.
Sources
Reichel, Willie. Occult Experiences. N.p., 1906