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HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS

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Porscha Campbell
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« Reply #165 on: November 15, 2009, 05:40:13 am »

This, of course, is an extreme example. The usual procedure is for the secondary personality to retain some of the characteristics of the original self—as the ability to read, write, etc.—and give itself a name. In this way Ansel Bourne, the Rhode Island itinerant preacher, became metamorphosed into A. J. Brown, and, without any recollection of his former career or relationships, drifted to Pennsylvania and began an entirely new existence as a shopkeeper in a small country town. Similarly with Dr. R. Osgood Mason's patient, Alma Z., in whom the secondary personality assumed the odd name of "Twoey," spoke, as Dr. Mason phrased it, "in a peculiar child-like and Indianlike dialect," and announced that her mission was to cure the broken down physical organism of the original self, which remained completely in abeyance so long as[Pg 190] "Twoey" was in evidence. Here, as is apparent, we have a case almost identical with that of Lurancy Vennum, the sole difference being that "Twoey"—who, by the way, is credited with having exercised seemingly supernormal powers—did not pose as a returned visitant from the world of spirits.
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« Reply #166 on: November 15, 2009, 05:40:27 am »

Thus far, then, depending on the argument from analogy, the presumption is strong that Lurancy's case belongs to the same category as the cases just mentioned. In the one, as in the others, we have loss of the original self, development of a new self, and the enactment by the latter of a rôle conspicuously alien from that played by the former. The one difficulty in the way of unreserved acceptance of this view is the character of the secondary personality which replaced Lurancy's original personality. Here the positive claim was made that the secondary personality was in reality the personality of a girl long dead, and by way of proof vivid knowledge of the life, circumstances, and conduct of that girl was offered. But on this point considerable light is shed by the discovery that in a number of instances of secondary personality in which no supernatural pretensions are advanced there[Pg 191] is a notable sharpening of the faculties, knowledge being obtained telepathically or clairvoyantly; and by the further discovery that it is quite possible to create experimentally secondary selves assuming the characteristics of real persons who have died.
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« Reply #167 on: November 15, 2009, 05:40:37 am »

In this the creative force is nothing more or less than suggestion. There is on record, indeed, an instance of mediumship in which the medium, an amateur investigator of the phenomena of spiritism, clearly recognized that his various impersonations were suggested to him by the spectators. This gentleman, Mr. Charles H. Tout, of Vancouver, records that after attending a few séances with some friends he felt a strong impulse to turn medium himself, and assume a foreign personality. Yielding to the impulse, he discovered, much to his amazement, that without losing complete control of his consciousness, he could develop a secondary self that would impose on the beholders as a discarnate spirit. On one occasion he thus acted in a semi-conscious way the part of a dead woman, the mother of a friend present, and the impersonation was accepted as a genuine case of spirit control. On another, having given several[Pg 192] successful impersonations, he suddenly felt weak and ill, and almost fell to the floor.

At this point, he stated, one of the sitters "made the remark, which I remember to have overheard, 'It is father controlling him,' and I then seemed to realize who I was and whom I was seeking. I began to be distressed in my lungs, and should have fallen if they had not held me by the hands and let me back gently upon the floor.... I was in a measure still conscious of my actions, though not of my surroundings, and I have a clear memory of seeing myself in the character of my dying father lying in the bed and in the room in which he died. It was a most curious sensation. I saw his shrunken hands and face, and lived again through his dying moments; only now I was both myself, in an indistinct sort of way, and my father, with his feelings and appearance."
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« Reply #168 on: November 15, 2009, 05:40:51 am »

All of this Tout explained correctly as "the dramatic working out, by some half conscious stratum of his personality, of suggestions made at the time by other members of the circle, or received in prior experiences of the kind." In most instances, however, the original self is completely effaced, and no consciousness is[Pg 193] retained of the performances of the secondary self; but that an avenue of sense is still open is sufficiently demonstrated by the readiness with which, in hypnotic experiments, seemingly insensible subjects respond to the suggestions of the operator. Here, therefore, we find our clue to the solution of the mystery of Lurancy Vennum. A victim of a psychic catastrophe, the cause of which must be left to conjecture in the absence of knowledge of her previous history, she was placed in precisely the position of the adventurous Mr. Tout and of the inert subjects of the hypnotist's art. That is to say, having lost momentarily all knowledge and control of her own personality, the character her new personality would assume depended on the suggestions received from those about her.

Yet not altogether. Dr. Stevens's detailed record contains a reference which indicates strongly that the spiritistic tendency manifest from the onset of her trouble was to some extent predetermined. A few days before the first attack she informed the family that "there were persons in my room last night, and they called 'Rancy, Rancy!' and I felt their breath on my face"; and the next night, repeating[Pg 194] the same story, she sought refuge in her mother's bed. These fanciful notions, symptomatic of the coming trouble and possibly provocative of it, would act in the way of a powerful autosuggestion, and would of themselves explain why there resulted an inchoate, tentative, vague personality, instead of the robust, definite personality that assumes control in most cases.
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« Reply #169 on: November 15, 2009, 05:41:18 am »

At first, the reader will remember, she sought vainly and wildly and wholly subconsciously—it cannot be made too clear that she was no longer consciously responsible for her acts—for a satisfactory self of ghostly origin. The aged Katrina, the masculine Willie, and other imaginary beings were tried and rejected; principally, no doubt, because her thirteen-year-old imagination was unequal to the task of investing them with satisfactory attributes. From her relatives she obtained no assistance in the strange quest. They, disbelieving in "spirits," persisted in calling her insane—a comfortless and far from beneficial suggestion. But with the intervention of the Roffs and Dr. Stevens everything changed. Not questioning the truth of her assertions, they confirmed her in them,[Pg 195] and offered her into the bargain a ready-made personality.

Here at last was something tangible, a starting-point, a foundation-stone. Mary Roff had had a real existence, had had thoughts, feelings, desires, a life of flesh and blood. And Mary, they assured the poor, perturbed, disintegrated self, could help her regain all that she had lost. Very well, let Mary come, and the sooner she came the better. For knowledge of Mary, of her characteristics, her relationships, her friends, her earthly career, it was necessary only to tap telepathically the reservoir of information possessed by Mary's family; and there would be available besides a wealth of data in chance remarks, unconscious hints, unnoticed promptings. She had been too long in search of a personality not to grasp at the opening now afforded. Focused thus by suggestion,—that subtle, all-pervasive influence which man is only now beginning to appreciate,—the basic delusional idea promptly took root, blossomed, and burst into an amazing fruition. Banished were the spurious Katrinas and Willies. In their stead reigned Mary, no less spurious in point of fact, but so cunningly counterfeiting[Pg 196] the true Mary that the deception was not once detected.
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« Reply #170 on: November 15, 2009, 05:42:04 am »

Mark too how suggestion sufficed not only to create the Mary personality but to expel it and restore the hapless Lurancy to perfect health. If the responsibility for the creation rests on Dr. Stevens and the Roffs, to them likewise belongs the credit for the cure. Their insistence on the fact that Mary's spirit could and would be of assistance, was itself as powerful a suggestion as could be hit upon by the most expert of modern practitioners of psychotherapeutics; and in unconsciously persuading the spirit to set a limit to its time of "possession" they made another suggestion of rare curative value. To the suggestionally inspired fixed idea that she was not Lurancy Vennum but Mary Roff was thus added the fixed idea, derived from the same source, that in May she would become Lurancy Vennum again, and a perfectly well Lurancy. It was as though the Roffs had actually hypnotized her and given her commands that were to be obeyed with the fidelity characteristic of the obedience hypnotized subjects render to the operator.

When the time came the transformation was[Pg 197] duly effected, though, as has been seen, not without a struggle, a period of alternating personality, with Mary at one moment supreme and Lurancy at another. But this is a phenomenon that need give us no concern. Exactly the same thing happened in the last stages of the Hanna case. Nor do the fugitive recurrences of the Mary personality signify aught than that Lurancy was still unduly suggestionable. Note that these recurrences, according to the available evidence, developed only when the Roffs paid her visits; and that they ceased entirely upon her marriage to a man not interested in spiritism, and her removal to a distant part of the country.[Q]
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« Reply #171 on: November 15, 2009, 05:42:18 am »

FOOTNOTES:

[P] In his "Multiple Personality."

[Q] It is proper to add that since the recent publication of this paper as a contribution to The Associated Sunday Magazine, the charge of fraud has been revived in connection with the "Watseka Wonder." It is asserted by a resident of Watseka that although Lurancy Vennum unquestionably was a sufferer from "nervous trouble," she consciously impersonated the "spirit" of Mary Roff, her motive being a desire to be near one of the Roff boys, with whom she imagined herself in love.

[Pg 198]
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« Reply #172 on: November 15, 2009, 05:42:37 am »

X

A Medieval Ghost Hunter

The name of Dr. John Dee is scarcely known to-day, yet Dr. Dee has some exceedingly well-defined claims to remembrance. He was one of the foremost scientists of the Tudor period in English history. He was famed as a mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher not only in his native land but in every European center of learning. Before he was twenty he penned a remarkable treatise on logic, and he left behind him at his death a total of nearly a hundred works on all manner of recondite subjects. He was the means of introducing into England a number of astronomical instruments hitherto unused, and even unknown, in that country. His lectures on geometry were the delight of all who heard them. In Elizabeth's reign he was frequently consulted by the highest ministers of the crown with regard to affairs of State, and was the confidant of the queen herself, who more than once employed[Pg 199] him on secret missions. He was interested in everyday affairs as well as in questions of theoretical importance. The reformation of the calendar long engaged his attention. He charted for Elizabeth her distant colonial dominions. He preached the doctrine of sea-power, and, like Hakluyt, advocated the upbuilding of a strong navy. He was, in some sort, a participant in Sir Humphrey Gilbert's scheme for New World colonization.

In a word, Dr. John Dee was a phenomenally many-sided man in an age that was peculiarly productive of many-sided men. Even yet, the catalogue of his interests and accomplishments is by no means exhausted. Indeed, his chief claim to fame—and, paradoxically enough, the great reason why his reputation practically died with him—lies in the fact that he was one of the earliest of psychical researchers. At a time when all men unhesitatingly entertained a belief in the overshadowing presence of spirits and their constant intervention in human affairs, Dr. Dee resolved to prove, if possible, the actual existence of these mysterious and unseen beings. To encourage him in his ghost-hunting zeal was the hope that the spirits, if[Pg 200] actually located by him, might reward his enterprise by unfolding a secret that had long been the despair of all medieval scientists—the secret of the philosopher's stone, of the precious formula whereby the baser metals could be transmuted into shining gold. With the heartiest enthusiasm, therefore, Dr. Dee went to work, and although the spirits with whom he ultimately came into constant communication brought him no gold but many tribulations, he remained an ardent psychical researcher to the day of his death.
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« Reply #173 on: November 15, 2009, 05:42:53 am »

Just when he began his explorations of the invisible world it is impossible to say. But it must have been at a very early age, for he was barely twenty-five when a rumor spread that he was dabbling in the black arts. Two years later, in 1554, he was definitely accused of trying to take the life of Queen Mary by enchantments, and on this charge was thrown into prison. For cellmate he had Barthlet Green, who parted from him only to meet an agonizing death in the flames, as an arch-heretic. Dee himself was threatened with the stake, and was actually placed on trial for his life before the dread Court of the Star Chamber. But he seems to have had, throughout[Pg 201] his entire career, a singularly plausible manner, and a magnetic, winning personality. He succeeded in convincing his judges both of his innocence of traitorous designs and his religious orthodoxy, and was allowed to go scot free. Elizabeth, on her accession to the throne, naturally looked on him with favor, as one who had been persecuted by her sister; and with the more favor since it was widely reported that he was on the eve of making the grand discovery for which other alchemists had ever labored in vain. A man who might some day make gold at will was certainly not to be despised; rather, he should be cultivated. Nor was her esteem for Dee lessened by the success with which, by astrological calculations, he named a favorable day for her coronation; and, a little later, by solemn disenchantment warded off the ill effects of the Lincoln's Inn Fields incident, when a puppet of wax, representing Elizabeth, was found lying on the ground with a huge pin stuck through its breast.
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« Reply #174 on: November 15, 2009, 05:43:27 am »

As a matter of fact, however, Dee was making headway neither in his quest for the philosopher's stone nor in his efforts to prove the existence of a spiritual world. In vain[Pg 202] he pored over every work of occultism upon which he could lay his hands, and tried all known means of incantation. Year after year passed without result, until at last he hit on the expedient of crystal-gazing. As every student of things psychical is aware, if one takes a crystal, or glass of water, or other body with a reflecting surface, and gaze at it steadily, he may possibly perceive, after a greater or less length of time, shadowy images of persons or scenes in the substance that fixes his attention. It was so with Dr. Dee, and not having any understanding of the laws of subconscious mental action he soon came to the conclusion that the shadowy figures he saw in the crystal were veritable spirits. From this it was an easy step to imagine that they really talked to him and sought to convey to him a knowledge of the great secrets of this world and the next.

The only difficulty was that he could not understand what they said—or, rather, what he fancied they said. The obvious thing to do was to find a crystal-gazer with the gift of the spirit language, and induce him to interpret for Dr. Dee's benefit the revelations of the images in the glass. Such a crystal-gazer[Pg 203] was ready at hand in the person of a young man named Edward Kelley. Among the common people, as Dee well knew, Kelley had the reputation of being a bold and wicked wizard. He had been born in Worcester, and trained in the apothecary's business, but, tempted by the prospect of securing great wealth at a minimum of trouble, he had turned alchemist and magician. It was rumored that on at least one occasion he had disinterred a freshly buried corpse, and by his incantations had compelled the spirit of the dead man to speak to him. There was more truth in the report that the reason he always wore a close-fitting skull-cap was to conceal the loss of his ears, which had been forfeited to the Government of England on his conviction for forgery. Of this last unpleasant incident Dr. Dee seems to have known nothing. At any rate, with child-like confidence, he sent for Kelley, told him of the properties of his magic crystal—which the now thoroughly infatuated doctor represented as having been bestowed on him by the angel Uriel—and asked Kelley if he would interpret for him the wonderful words of the spirits.
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« Reply #175 on: November 15, 2009, 05:43:56 am »

Kelley, as shrewd and unscrupulous a man[Pg 204] as any in the annals of imposture, readily consented, but on pretty hard terms. He was to be taken in as a member of Dr. Dee's family, retained on a contract, and paid an annual stipend of fifty pounds, quite a large sum in those times. On this understanding he went to work, and day after day, for years, regaled the credulous Dee with monologues purporting to be delivered by the spirits in the crystal. Everything Kelley told him, Dr. Dee faithfully noted down, and many years later, long after both Dee and Kelley had been carried to their graves, these manuscript notes of the séances were published. The volume containing them—a massive, closely printed folio entitled "A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits"—is one of the great curiosities of literature. A copy of the original edition is before me as I write, and I will quote from it just enough to show the character of the "revelations" vouchsafed to Dee through the mediumship of the cunning Kelley.

"Wednesday, 19 Junii, I made a prayer to God and there appeared one, having two garments in his hands, who answered, 'A good praise, with a wavering mind.'

[Pg 205]

"God made my mind stable, and to be seasoned with the intellectual leaven, free of all sensible mutability.
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« Reply #176 on: November 15, 2009, 05:44:22 am »

"E. K. [said] 'One of these two garments is pure white: the other is speckled of divers colors; he layeth them down before him, he layeth also a speckled cap down before him at his feet; he hath no cap on his head: his hair is long and yellow, but his face cannot be seen.... Now he putteth on his pied coat and his pied cap, he casteth one side of his gown over his shoulder and he danceth, and saith, "There is a God, let us be merry!"'

"E. K. 'He danceth still.'

"'There is a heaven, let us be merry.'

"'Doth this doctrine teach you to know God, or to be skilful in the heavens?'

"'Note it.'

"E. K. 'Now he putteth off his clothes again: now he kneeleth down, and washeth his head and his neck and his face, and shaketh his clothes, and plucketh off the uttermost sole of his shoes, and falleth prostrate on the ground, and saith, "Vouchsafe, oh God, to take away the weariness of my body and to cleanse the filthiness of this dust, that I may be apt for this pureness."'

[Pg 206]

"E. K. 'Now he taketh the white garment, and putteth it on him.... Now he sitteth down on the desk-top and looketh toward me.... He seemeth now to be turned to a woman, and the very same which we call Galvah.'"
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« Reply #177 on: November 15, 2009, 05:45:00 am »

Side by side with the esoteric and transcendental utterances which Kelley credited to the spirits, he cleverly introduced sufficient in the way of references to the elixir of life and the transmutation of metals, to keep alive in Dee's breast the hope of ultimately solving the crucial problems of medieval science. All the money Dee could procure was spent on ingredients for magical formulas, and to such lengths did his enthusiasm carry him that before long he was reduced to poverty. He became so poor, in fact, that when, in the summer of 1583, the Earl of Leicester announced his intention of bringing a notable foreign visitor, Count Albert Lasky of Bohemia, to dine with Dee, the unhappy doctor was compelled to send word that he could not provide a proper dinner. Leicester, moved to pity, reported his plight to the queen, who at once belied her reputation for niggardliness by bestowing a liberal gift on[Pg 207] the Sage of Mortlake, as Dee was now styled at the Court. The dinner accordingly took place, and was a tremendous success in more ways than one.
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« Reply #178 on: November 15, 2009, 05:45:28 am »

Lasky turned out to be an exceedingly excitable and impressionable man, and his curiosity was so aroused by the occult discourse of his host that he begged to be admitted to the séances. Always alert to the main chance, Kelley, after a few preliminary sittings of unusual picturesqueness, inspired the spirits to predict that Lasky would one day be elected King of Poland. It needed nothing more to induce the happy and hopeful count to invite both Dee and Kelley to return with him to Bohemia. He would, he promised, protect and provide for them; they should live with him in his many turreted castle, and want for nothing. Here, indeed, was a pleasant way out of their present poverty, and Dee and Kelley readily gave consent. Nor did they leave England a moment too soon. Scarcely had they taken ship before a mob, roused to fury by superstitious fears, broke into the philosopher's house at Mortlake and destroyed almost everything that they did not steal[Pg 208]—furniture, books, manuscripts, and costly scientific apparatus.
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« Reply #179 on: November 15, 2009, 05:45:45 am »

Of this, though, Dee for the moment happily knew nothing. Nor, for all his long intercourse with the spirits, was he able to foresee that he was now embarking on a career of tragic adventure that falls to the lot of few scientists. At first, however, all went well enough. Lasky entertained his learned guests in lavish fashion, and, assuming their garb of long, flowing gown, joined heartily with them in the ceremonies of the séance room. But as time passed and their incantations redounded in no way to his advantage, he gradually lost patience, and broadly hinted that they might better transfer their services to another patron. Whereupon, closely followed by the irrepressible Kelley, Dee removed to the court of the emperor, Rudolph II, at Prague. He had dedicated one of his scientific treatises to the emperor's father, and in his simplicity firmly believed that this would insure him a warm and lasting welcome. But Rudolph, from the outset, showed himself far from well-disposed to Dee, Kelley, and their attendant retinue of invisible spirits. When Dee grandiloquently introduced himself, in a Latin[Pg 209] oration, as a messenger from the unseen world, the emperor curtly checked him with the remark that he did not understand Latin. And the next day a hint was given him that, at the request of the papal nuncio, he and Kelley were to be arrested and sent to Rome for trial as necromancers. Before night-fall they were in full flight, to remain homeless wanderers until another Bohemian count, hearing of their presence in his dominions, took them under his protection on the proviso that they were to replenish his exchequer by converting humble pewter into silver and gold.
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