Vandermeulen Spirit Indicator
One of various devices invented to facilitate communication
with spirits through mechanical means. It consisted of two glass
prisms—one plain, the other resinous—fixed face-to-face on a
board. Between them hung a very light triangle of wire. The
prisms were connected to the positive and negative poles of a
dry bell battery.
If the hanging triangle swung out and touched the positive
wire, the circuit was closed and the bell rang. The spirits were
expected to generate electricity in the prisms. If this was done,
the hanging triangle wired to the negative pole would be repelled
by the negative prism and attracted to the positive wire.
The bell would ring, which was taken as an indication that a
spirit desired to communicate, and the observers would rush to
the ouija board to obtain the message.
The young inventor died in 1930 before his apparatus could
be tested properly, but it was revived by a Mr. Rutot, a Belgian
professor and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences.
Rutot claimed that by means of the apparatus he had been able
to contact the dead inventor. The apparatus, which came to be
known as Rutot’s Spirit Indicator, was described in Revue
Métapsychique (May–June, 1930, p. 256), and Rutot’s own experiences
were published in the Bulletin du Conseil de Recherches
Métapsychiques de Belgique (July 1930). An English-language deVampire
Studies Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
scription of the apparatus, with detailed instructions for construction,
was published by Robert J. Strong in his book Spiritual
Engineering (1931).
For a detailed report of tests, with photographs, see the
chapter ‘‘Rutot’s Triangles’’ in Laboratory Investigations into Psychic
Phenomena by Hereward Carrington (n.d.). It was not possible
for Carrington to confirm the ‘‘instrumental communication
with the dead’’ claimed by Rutot. Mechanical faults were
not ruled out, and it was suggested that Rutot’s claimed results
may have been due to experimenters with mediumistic or telekinetic
powers. (See also electronic voice phenomenon)