Winds (Paranormal)
Paranormal breezes, currents of air, and cooling temperatures
are frequently reported séance room phenomena, as well
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Winds (Paranormal)
1675
as being traditionally associated with the subjective effects of
hauntings. It is an open question whether such temperature
changes serve a direct purpose or are only by-products.
Such thermic manifestations are a great convenience both
for the sitters and the medium, who sometimes report excessive
perspiration. One the other hand, Celestine Sanders, a New
York medium, used to feel so unnaturally cold during her séances
that she enveloped herself in many coverings and shawls
to counteract the effect. It is difficult to allot the parts that the
sitters and the medium play in the phenomenon. Sometimes
the source seems to be the medium.
The spouting fountain of air that psychical researcher Cesare
Lombroso discussed in his account of séances with Eusapia
Palladino issued from a depression on the medium’s
forehead. Hereward Carrington noticed that after a good séance
the breeze was strong, and after a poor one it was altogether
lacking. Yet the breeze was not generally an after-séance effect.
It usually preceded and heralded strong physical
phenomena.
The chilly feeling that accompanies apparitions may be the
result of a sudden drop in the temperature. All those who saw
the apparition of a wooden cross in a certain haunted house felt
unnaturally cold.
‘‘Walter,’’ the spirit control of the medium Mina S. Crandon
(‘‘Margery’’), said that cold breezes and drops in temperature
were the result of some psychic emanation from the sitters’
brains. ‘‘Walter’’ found immense pleasure in using the thermometer
as an indicator of the physical conditions confronting
him. He said that if he looked at it and it was steady, he used
‘‘Margery’’ alone, and if it was going down, he used the sitters’
brains as well. If he used ‘‘Margery’’ alone no cold breezes or
drops in temperature were produced.
‘‘Walter’s’’ statement contains nothing new for Spiritualists.
A control of the famous medium D. D. Home said more than
a half a century earlier ‘‘It is through your brains that the atmosphere
we make use of is thrown off.’’ Lord Adare, in a séance
with Home, heard the sound of a great wind. ‘‘We also felt
the wind strongly,’’ he wrote ‘‘the moaning, rushing sound was
the most weird thing I ever heard.’’
Prior to the Spiritualist era, the seer Emanuel Swedenborg
also encountered the phenomenon. He wrote in his Spiritual
Diary
‘‘A spirit is compared to the wind (John iii, 8); hence it is that
spirits have come to me both now, and very frequently before,
with wind, which I felt in the face; yea, it also moved the flame
of the candle, and likewise papers; the wind was cold, and indeed
most frequently when I raised my right arm, which I wondered
at, the cause of which I do not yet know.’’
The same experience has been recorded with many physical
mediums. Sir William Crookes wrote in Researches into the Phenomena
of Spiritualism (1874)
‘‘These movements, and indeed, I may say the same of every
kind of phenomenon, are generally preceded by a peculiar cold
air, sometimes amounting to a decided wind. I have had sheets
of paper blown about by it, and a thermometer lowered several
degrees. On some occasions I have not detected any actual
movement of the air, but the cold has been so intense that I
could only compare it to that felt when the hand has been within
a few inches of frozen mercury.’’
In the experiments at the Millesimo Castle with the Marquis
Centurione Scotto, the psychical researcher Ernesto Bozzano
recorded
‘‘On the evening of July 7, 1928, the heat was very oppressive
. . . we happened to mention this disadvantage, and immediately
blasts of unusually strong, icy air were felt by us all. . . .
There was a continual change in the direction from which these
air currents came; sometimes they descended from the ceiling,
then we felt them in front of us, or at our side, or blowing from
behind us; sometimes they were like small whirlwinds. It felt as
though several electric fans were working in the centre, outside
and above the circle.’’
In the next séance, the phenomenon was repeated and perfected
‘‘Almost immediately we felt strong blasts of icy air which
rapidly increased in force, giving one the impression of a powerful
supernormal electric fan which periodically wafted its
pleasant, cooling currents of air over the sitters. . . . These currents
were so strong that our hair waved in the wind, and men’s
coats, and the lace on the ladies’ dresses were blown about.’’
Bozzano added that not the slightest sound accompanied
the production of this phenomenon. The breezes sometimes
brought down the temperature of the séance room by as much
as 20 degrees.
George Henslow described the sensations of the sitters of
T. d’Aute Hooper of Birmingham, England, as of that of ‘‘an
intensely cold dew or mist, as though a vapour of methylated
spirit were floating about the room.’’ While apports were being
produced, ‘‘the sitters felt as if they were sitting up to their
knees in cold water.’’
Measuring Temperature Differences
The psychical researcher Harry Price established a definite
connection between the phenomenon of telekinesis and the
drop in temperature. In his experiments with the medium Stella
C. at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research he noticed
a maximum drop of 20.5 degrees Fahrenheit. At the close
of the séance the temperature was again normal. The medium’s
temperature was always higher at the end of the sitting, but she
herself always complained of feeling cold. The rapidity of her
pulse beats was always accompanied in the trance by a pronounced
coldness in the extremities.
In the ‘‘Margery’’ séances, a maximum-and-minimum thermometer
was employed to measure the temperature. In one
case the initial temperature dropped from 68 to 42, a difference
of 26 degrees. After the breezes had been blowing for a
while ‘‘Margery’’ often complained of feeling as though cobwebs
were on her face.
General experience regarding the nature of the cold breezes
was curiously contradicted in an address by the British clairvoyant
Robert King (Light, April 25, 1903). He stated that the peculiar
cold air of the séance room is not a wind,
‘‘. . . it does not move things. I have watched pieces of paper
placed on the table when these cold airs have been playing
around. If a wind of that intensity had been blowing, the paper
would have been moved, so I rather incline to the opinion that
this phenomenon is due to a difference in pressure caused by
abstraction of etheric matter from the sitters.’’
Sources
Hack, Gwendolyn Kelley. Modern Psychic Mysteries. London
Rider, 1929.