Materializations and dematerializations of persons and things





Through the diligent study of the events occurred during hundreds of séances, Brackett came to the conclusion that not only did the spirits materialize their forms, but also their clothes and any ornaments worn. By materialization Brackett meant the transformation of a substance that was at first invisible and evanescent into a visible, tangible and therefore concrete material. Like entities, materialized objects presented not only the requirement of visibility, but also that of tangibility. Moreover, some reported examples showed that these objects had their own weight, thus demonstrating all the physical characteristics of matter as we know it. Unfortunately, at that time there were no audiovisual recording instruments – sensitive also to infrared waves – which are available to us today, even if we have got photographic documentation of materialization phenomena of entities, plants and various objects, obtained through some mediums in the past. In any case, by analogy with other well documented and recorded mediumistic phenomena (such as the direct voice), we can believe that the materialized entities presented themselves as objective realities, not referable to phenomena of suggestion or collective hallucination: an assumption that Brackett himself did not fail to consider, even in the light of his studies on mesmerism, until he discarded it.   

Brackett frankly admitted that he had never been able to understand how materialization could occur, nor can we say that we knew more than he did, with the difference that at that time the intelligent and educated people were still full of confident hope in the progress of science, thanks to which they thought they could explain these and other mysteries as well. However, over a century later, what we know is that we are part of a universe whose level of complexity is so high that we doubt even whether we have the right tools to fully decipher physical reality, and we find ourselves completely confused about phenomena that imply the possibility of the existence of alternative dimensions.    

Evolution of Bertha

To return to Mrs. Fay's séances, Brackett observed that while the materializations of entities usually occurred only within the mediumistic cabinet, from which the entities emerged more or less well formed (in some cases, as we have seen, completing their materialization or transformation even outside the cabinet), the materializations of objects were sometimes produced outside, and therefore could be studied more easily. Bertha, in her almost childlike gaiety, proved to be – in Brackett's eyes – a particularly intelligent, earnest, helpful and affectionate entity. She never failed to show herself at any of the séances in which the artist took part, and was for him an assistant and a precious partner in various experiments. Brackett, on his part, claimed to be absolutely certain that Bertha was neither the disguised medium nor a confederate, and that during two years of investigations he could never find the slightest clue that could make him doubt that Bertha was not what she said to be: a materialized spirit. As the relationship between them deepened, Brackett saw Bertha grow before his eyes in intelligence, in ease, in understanding and in depth of reasoning and feeling, just as a father can see his daughter grow up. This was the aspect that most struck Brackett, that is to find himself in front of an authentic autonomous personality, many aspects of which he kept confidential, stating that the things they had reasoned together represented for him the most sacred he had in his life.   

When Bertha had raised her hand three feet from the ground, the first time she showed up, she wanted to indicate with that gesture – as she explained later – the height she was when she died, about four years-old (which was true, as confirmed by Brackett's relatives). At present she showed herself as a girl of about sixteen, five feet tall, well proportioned and with a particularly beautiful face, whose expression, in some circumstances, was for Brackett beyond description. She did not appear dressed in elaborate drapes, but with some garments that were both essential and elegant: a short skirt and a tight-fitting blouse, with short sleeves that left the well-modeled arms visible. She never wore hats, letting her long silky hair float freely on her shoulders. She was always in a good mood, inclined to make joking comments towards those she came in contact with. As Brackett personally ascertained through careful measurements made with the collaboration of a friend of his who did not believe in spirits, the measurements of Bertha's body and her look did not correspond to those of the medium or any of the other sitters. Bertha assiduously helped Brackett, making him realize that the ability to intelligently communicate develops in spirits through the proper use they can make of our magnetic field (to define which Brackett uses a strange adjective: aromal), so that they need a frequent training with us to acquire a better control of the physical dimension: coherence of materializations and ability of expression improve significantly each time they can come into contact with us in a harmonious and positive way. 

Bertha's performances

Bertha behaved very naturally. Often, coming out of the cabinet, she would sit next to Brackett and begin to converse with him, apparently without noticing the other people around her. One day when the entity proved to be particularly fit and lively, Brackett told her: «You are feeling strong today; can you not do something to interest us?». After a moment of hesitation, Bertha led her uncle into the middle of the room, looked up laughingly into his face and said: «I will show you how we dress the forms in the cabinet». Only a few minutes before, Auntie – Mrs. Fay's control – had stated to Brackett that the forms were first materialized and then draped. Bertha stretched out her bare arms, turning them that every one could see that there was nothing in them, and brought the palms of her hands together, rubbing them as if rolling something between them. Very soon there descended from her hands a substance which looked like very white lace. She continued this until several yards of it lay upon the carpet, and then asked Brackett to kneel down, saying he was too tall for her to work easily. She then took the fabric and made a robe around him, which appeared seamless. On being reminded that there were no sleeves, she took each arm in turn and materialized sleeves. Putting her hand on his head she said, «You have not hair enough», and, rubbing her hand over his head, materialized a wig, which Brackett could not see, but putting his hand up could feel, and those who were near him said it was in keeping with his own hair and quite an improvement. Then, removing the garment, Bertha rolled it into a compact mass, manipulated it a few moments, and it was gone! In materializing and dematerializing this fabric, her arms, which were bare to the shoulders, were stretched out at full length, precluding the possibility of any deception.   

At a subsequent séance, Brackett, after presenting Bertha to some friends invited by him for the occasion, asked her if she would be kind enough to show them how to make lace. She stepped forward and asked for his handkerchief, which he placed between her hands, manipulating it much after the manner of starching fine fabrics. It was easy to see that the material in her hands was rapidly increasing in volume and soon the lace began to descend; but instead of being only one piece, there were two, one dark red, and one white, both falling at the same time, each piece about three quarters of a yard wide. When she had completed it, she held one end, while Brackett took the other and walked across the room, stretching it out to its full length, between three and four yards, so that all could see it; and while it was so held, the controlling spirit shut off the light, showing that the lace was brilliantly illuminated. Bertha then gathered it in, rolled it up and dematerialized it on Brackett's shoulder, the light remaining on his coat for nearly a minute after the lace had entirely disappeared.    

Further investigations

On October 6, 1885, previous to the séance, Mrs. Fay came into the room under the control of Auntie, and requested that four ladies should be selected by the audience to go with the medium to her dressing-room. The request was complied with, and the ladies returned with Mrs. Fay, still under control, and stated that they had dressed her entirely in dark clothes; that there was not one particle of white fabric about her, except the little collar around her neck. The control then asked Brackett to take a light into the cabinet, and all were requested to examine it and see that there was no possible chance for a confederate, or the concealment of drapery. This was done to the entire satisfaction of all present. Mrs. Fay was not allowed to leave the room, but as soon as the audience was seated, went directly into the cabinet. She had not time to take her seat before a form, dressed in white, came out into the room. This was followed by several others similarly dressed. Then the light was lowered, and a tall female form came out, dressed in brilliantly illuminated garments. A white handkerchief held against this drapery had the appearance of a dark object. This figure walked about the room for a few minutes, and vanished within three feet from where Brackett sat, and at least eight feet from the cabinet. Then, in the middle of the room, on the carpet, appeared a small light, not larger than the palm of a hand. It gradually grew larger, until it assumed the tall, angular form of Auntie, the control, who, in her hoarse voice, greeted the audience saying: «Good afternoon, all: I thought I would see what I could do». She then addressed the audience in one of the most forcible speeches Brackett had ever listened to, stating her reasons for putting the medium under test conditions, ending by saying that she respected an honest skeptic, but had no patience with those who accept anything without good, substantial evidence.   

Auntie then returned to the cabinet, and many forms came out and were recognized. Bertha came, and stretching out her arms at full length, that all could see there was no chance for deception, she materialized between her hands a piece of cambric, about three yards long and one wide, brilliantly illuminated. After all who desired to do so had examined it, she gathered it up, and, passing over to where the light was the strongest, held it up, laughingly remarking that there was enough to make a dress, proceeded to make it up, materializing sleeves, and then put it on and walked round the room. Taking it off, she dematerialized it in the presence of all. Returning for a moment to the cabinet, she came back, and, kneeling on the floor, with the fingers of the right hand made circular movements on the carpet, with each of which it was plain to be seen that the light was increasing. She continued this until she had materialized another large piece of fabric. This gave great satisfaction to all, except one visitor, who, from some cause, was a little disturbed, and asked Brackett if he had been in the habit of practicing sleight-of-hand. His intimate friend, who came with him, had the good fortune to be close to Bertha, and had witnessed all that had occurred. He rose, of his own free will, and stated to the audience that he had been investigating the subject for thirty years, and that this was the most wonderful and convincing thing he had ever seen.    

On October 13, 1885, the audience was large, crowding the room and making it so warm as to materially interfere with the manifestations, especially with those spirits who had not been accustomed to materialize. The illuminated forms and drapery were well shown. In the light séance, Bertha came and pulled bRckett up from his chair. She complained of the closeness of the room, saying that she could not do much. She materialized a carnation in his hand, and Brackett called a friend, Mr. Whitlock, to witness it, whereupon she took both of his hands and made a flower in each. Whitlock was the editor of Facts – a Boston monthly magazine dedicated to paranormal phenomena, published from 1882 to 1887 – and as such he was a frequent visitor to mediumistic séances. On that occasion Emma, another control entity, soon came out, dressed in a rich white figured satin dress, which all in the front row were allowed to inspect. Mr. Whitlock obtained a pair of scissors, and, with Emma's consent, cut quite a piece out of her dress. The damage seemed to be soon repaired. Mr. Whitlock, in searching for the place where he had cut the piece out, lifted the skirt, which gave Emma a chance to play the coquette, and this created considerable amusement.     

Among other materializations, Mr. Whitlock's father came to him, a fine, robust form, with a strong individuality that could not well be mistaken. Mr. Whitlock and his wife testified to the likeness. This was followed by the appearance of Dr. J. R. Newton, a widely-known healer, some time deceased. Mr. Whitlock and Brackett went up and greeted him, shaking hands with him, and had time to study his face well: there could be no mistake; it was a wonderful likeness. About this séance, Whitlock wrote the following report: «At the above-named séance, the following-named ladies... (the names of five ladies are given) were asked by Mrs. Fay to examine her clothing before she entered the cabinet. They stated that she had nothing white about her person, except a piece of ruche around her neck, worn as a collar. The cabinet was also thoroughly examined by all who desired. My father, George C. Whitlock, who passed to the spirit-life about twenty years ago, was very perfectly materialized. We will not attempt a description of this séance, as Mr. Brackett's report is substantially what we would have written. Our experience with the dress above mentioned was wonderful, and to us as incomprehensible as was our lace experience at Mrs. Fay's séance at Onset Bay last summer, a description of which we published in the September number of Facts. One thing is certain: I had in my hand a piece of brocaded white satin, which I know I had out from the dress of which Mr. Brackett speaks, and that while I was kneeling before the form, the hole which I had made in the dress did disappear, and that I used my senses, of both sight and feeling, to convince myself of the facts. Over sixty forms appeared, most of whom were recognized by friends».

Another time the question of obtaining private séances, in the interest of the Committee on Psychical Research, was discussed among Brackett and some friends of his, and it was considered desirable to make arrangements with Mrs. Fay for that purpose. Brackett was selected to consult with her, and, if possible, obtain her consent. After a letter with the Committee's requests was written, Brackett informed Mrs. Fay that he was ready to talk with her. She replied that she should leave the matter entirely with her control, and if he would lay the letter on the mantel, near the cabinet, Auntie, the control, would probably speak about it. This letter was a long one, some four pages, written by a member of the Psychological Society. Brackett placed it under a heavy musicbox, within a few inches of his head, where he was certain it remained undisturbed until he took it away. Its contents were not made known to Mrs. Fay until after the decision of her control. As Brackett did not then know what it contained, and in his subsequent interview with Mrs. Fay made no allusion to it, Auntie's knowledge of it seemed very remarkable to him. 

As Mrs. Fay stepped behind the curtain, Auntie came out, fully materialized, greeting Brackett cordially, shaking hands with him, and expressing pleasure at meeting him; then, in a clear and forcible manner, discussed the question of the proposed séance, going freely into detail, showing conclusively that she understood both sides, and closed by saying that she did not propose to submit her medium to such conditions as were required by the letter, at the same time expressing a willingness to do all she could for Mr. Savage, one of the Committee's members. Bidding Brackett goodbye, she dematerialized directly in front of him, so near that he could have laid his baud upon her as she went down. The curtains were apart, and he could see Mrs. Fay standing just beside the cabinet; but in order to make himself more certain, if possible, of that fact, he reached out her right hand, which he took in his left, preventing the curtains from closing; and while thus standing, no less than six fully materialized forms came out and greeted him. In the meantime Mrs. Fay had been under partial control, but not entranced, and talked freely with Brackett about the forms, often describing them before they were visible to him. These forms were substantial, varying in height and shape, and distinct from each other. Most of them conversed freely, showing quite as much individuality and intelligence as some of Brackett's acquaintances, persons who – Brackett said with regret – thought to be wise in treating these forms with coldness and distrust, all of which is reflected back to them.  

Brackett's experiments with other mediums

Brackett also carried out experiments with other mediums, especially to verify whether the same entities, and in particular Bertha, could materialize under different conditions, and how the apparitions were influenced by the personality of the medium or by different environments. When Bertha materialized, Brackett tested her to see if her personality matched that of her niece as he had known her during the séances with Fay. He declared that in some cases the entities that had presented themselves with the features of Bertha had then turned out to be deceptive, which Brackett did not attribute to an attempted fraud by the medium (Mrs. Sawyer) but to the attraction exerted on unevolved entities from a powerful magnetism, even if of coarse quality. 

Of particular interest were the séances with Mrs. Helen Fairchild, given that this medium operated while remaining outside the cabinet, but always under the influence of one of her controls, in particular of an entity that called itself Cadaleene, who, in a very informal and direct way, called the people who had to approach the cabinet to interact with the materialized spirits. Since the séances almost always took place in a lighted room, the contemporary presence of different materialized entities and the medium induces at least to rule out the possibility of mystification of the apparitions by Mrs. Fairchild herself. Indeed Whitlock – who also attended these séances – had raised some objections to the fact that Fairchild's mediumistic cabinet consisted of a small room, separated by curtains, which connected the sitting-room with another room: conversing with a friend, he said that, after examining the cabinet carefully, he had not been able to find evidence of fraud, but he would have preferred that the same results could be produced with a cabinet created by placing a curtain across one of the corners of the room, the walls of which appeared massive and without possible secret trapdoors. After the beginning of the séance, Whitlock was surprised to hear Cadaleene address him and tell him: «Mr. Facts-man (a pun on the title of the magazine edited by Whitlock), I heard what you told the brave, and you see we have the curtain across the corner, to show you what we can do». The séance continued in the regular cabinet, as usual, for about an hour and a half. The light was good, and many spirits manifested their presence, among which the following interesting experience occurred: a friend of Brackett had a communication the day before from a spirit-friend, in writing, through his own hand, promising to materialize at this séance. He told Barckett that this spirit had not only fulfilled this promise, but had told him things that no other person knew but himself, and that he recognized her fully. 

At some point the control, Cadaleene, still holding the medium, directed that the gas be lit and the hall door opened. She then closed the sliding door in front of the cabinet, and fastened back the curtains which hung over it to form the front of the regular cabinet when in use, so that all might know if it was opened. The audience was then seated facing the corner where the curtains had been hung for a temporary cabinet, some near and in front of the door just mentioned, which could be seen by all present. The medium, still under control, passed behind the curtain, but came out in a moment, followed almost immediately by a form dressed entirely in white. After this form returned to the cabinet, two others came out – one a lady, the other a gentleman – and it was said a third was seen in the cabinet. All this time the medium was controlled by Cadaleene, who was finding the friends of the spirits with remarkable dexterity. Several others followed, and Brackett he also quotes the names of some of the sitters, saying that some events of this séance had been reproduced by means of drawings.   

Brackett and one of his friends, William D. Brewer, attended a private séance with Mrs. Fairchild. They examined the cabinet without being able to discover anything that would lead them to suppose that there was any chance for a confederate to be used. The séance lasted about two hours, during which time scarcely a minute passed that there were not forms out in the room, either to Mr. Brewer or Brackett; sometimes three or four at once. More than half the time the extemporized cabinet in the corner of the room was used. There appeared to be no difference between the workings of the two: the manifestations came as freely from one as from the other. As Brackett examined the walls and everything connected with the temporary cabinet, he stated that the forms that came from or appeared in it were materialized beings. He was in the cabinet several times during the séance often with two forms at the same time. Once he sat between them, an arm around each, satisfying himself of their objective reality as well as if he had been walking with them outside in the room. While thus holding them, the one encircled by his left and whose right arm was around his neck, instantly disappeared, without the slightest indication of any movement; she was there, and she was not there. Still holding the one encircled by his right arm, Brackett rose and with his left hand drew the curtain aside, so that he could see everything behind it. There was not the faintest trace of the beautiful being that a moment before, he had so firmly held, and with whom he had been talking. However – Brackett noticed – the force at Mrs. Fairchild's séances was mainly expended in materialization, and for that reason they were valuable to skeptics; but to the experienced investigator they offered nothing new. Many of the forms came heavily veiled, and there was an absence of that social and mental character which is ever the surest evidence of recognition.    

Two significant materializations of Bertha took place during the séances with the Berry sisters, two Boston mediums that seemed particularly gifted. The first took place in the summer of 1885: Bertha, who could bear more light than other materializations, accompanied Brackett to the mediumistic cabinet, and here he was able to observe her in detail. She had a long, fluffy, dark blond hair that fell on her shoulders and below her waist, and a very white and rich dress that wrapped her forms like a Greek statue. According to Brackett, she appeared more like a dream of ideal life, than a creature who had ever walked the earth. In this circumstance the artist who was in him took over, giving us a truly heavenly description of this entity and her way of acting and speaking. He passed his fingers through her long silken tresses, and put his hand upon her finely formed head. As she laid her face to his, she said in the most earnest yet tender tones: «You did not think I would come». This was true: during the séances with the Berry sisters, Brackett had waited a long time for the appearance of Bertha, who until then had not manifested herself. Tired with his journey and the sultry heat, he was then indifferent to taking an active part in the séance.

At a remark by Brackett, Bertha, who was usually in a cheerful mood, grasped his hand nervously, her chest rose and fell with increased respiration, and without making any reply she retreated to the cabinet. But when he went back to his seat, a moment afterward, Brackett was surprised by her rushing out and kneeling down in front of him. Throwing her bare arms around his neck and pulling his head down to her, that others might not listen to what was said, she poured forth, in the most earnest and impassioned strain, her thoughts; talking – said Brackett – as only a woman can talk under the highest inspiration. Brackett was very struck by this manifestation because he had the impression that Bertha could read his thoughts and clarify with precise words all the doubts and perplexities that disturbed him, while her materialized form trembled and vibrated with emotion. At last, raising her head, and tossing back her long hair, she grasped both Brackett's hands, and, with a face beaming with light, said: «It seems strange to you, but what can I do? We are subject to conditions; and if I come at all, it must be in harmony with them. There are spheres and circles we cannot penetrate, if the controlling influence is against us. We are still human, still yearning for affection, that human love which is the silken cord that binds us all. What would you not do to reach those dear to your heart? You understand me now».   

Brackett said that each of these words, and the warm and heartfelt intonation with which they were pronounced, would remain indelibly imprinted on his memory, and he regretted not being able to report, for personal reasons, all that the entity told him. At last, exhausted by her long effort, Bertha rose and led him to the cabinet, where he noticed that her form was rapidly changing. Suddenly, like the extinguishing of a light, she passed into that invisible space whence she came. Brackett stated that in this circumstance, even if there had been a dozen confederates, for what he could prove, it was barely possible that a delightful being like Bertha belonged on this side of life; but whether on this side or the other, in the fullness of his artistic nature, he would thank God that such beauty could exist anywhere.      

Among the many remarkable things Brackett witnessed at the Berry sisters séances, once, after he had inspected the cabinet (one of the most simple and truthful arrangements possible), Bertha materialized outside of the cabinet, more than three feet from it, and at least six feet from the entrance, and so close to him that she brushed him with her garments. At another séance, on November 7, 1885, he attended in company with his wife and daughter, and a lady friend, Mrs. Newton. Although the atmosphere was unfavorable, the manifestations were good, there often being two forms out at once, talking with their friends. When Brackett had warning of Bertha's presence, he requested Mrs. Newton, who sat beside him, to watch the left-hand corner, near the cabinet. In a few minutes there appeared a soft light on the carpet, near the wall, and almost instantly Bertha came up in full view of all. Springing forward and taking Brackett's little daughter by both hands, she came briskly across the room to where he sat. After their usual greeting, the artist introduced her to Mrs. Newton, who detained her for some time, his wife coming forward and joining in the conversation.

As Mrs. Newton seemed quite interested in Bertha, Brackett felt desirous to know what impression was made upon her. To his expressed wish she responded with the following statement: «In regard to the materialized apparition claiming to be your spirit-niece, Bertha, I will state that I think her the most intelligent and sprightly re-embodiment of a spirit that I ever saw, and I have seen a great many within the last ten years. At all events, I am confident no one who sees her can imagine her to be either a made-up figure, a lifeless effigy, or the medium in disguise. Can it be, – said I to myself – that this beautiful girl, so charming and graceful, so full of life and intelligence, is truly a spirit? Just as the thought had formed itself in my mind, she had turned toward the cabinet and vanished before the curtain. But hardly a minute had elapsed before she sprang out again from the cabinet, like a new-born seraph, and, opening her hands before all the company present, her arms being entirely bare to the shoulder, she extended them above her head, began to manipulate something apparently in the air, and soon handed me a most exquisite rose, with the moisture oozing from the stem where it had apparently been twisted off from the stock...».      

Allegations of fraud and tricks

Brackett's book contains many other interesting testimonies and considerations on the nature of materializations, on the ways in which the apparitions are produced and on their interactions with humans. But – we ask ourselves – what reliability do these testimonies have for us today? Indeed, Brackett's report is sufficiently precise, consistent and argued to be considered reliable: it is clear that Brackett does not want to deceive the reader, and in all probability his testimony of the facts is sincere. Moreover – apart from the testimony of Marryat – a research in the press of that time (magazines and newspapers in Boston and New York) confirmed the existence and activity of the mediums mentioned by Brackett, in addition to the quality and type of phenomena of materialization that were produced in those séances. We can therefore reasonably conclude that, if there was a deception, Brackett himself must have been the first victim, since he tells us about these events excluding fraud and always asking himself the question (which is the subtitle to his book): «If Not Beings from Another Life What Are They?» 

In some newspapers of the time were also published articles related to allegations of unmasking one or the other Boston medium. And, as usually happens, this news were immediately given a great emphasis, without proceeding with further verifications or investigations. It is well understandable – and in the end also natural – that while it is required for paranormal phenomena to be subjected to the most strict controls, in front of allegations of fraud we are satisfied with vague statements, not substantiated by relevant tests or verifications: understandable, of course, but neither logical nor inspired by impartial evaluation criteria. In fact, the allegations against the Boston mediums were based essentially on two statements: the first by a certain John Curtis, also of Boston, who in April 1888 invited several journalists to his house and submitted them six boxes of theater material (costumes of all kinds, caps, mustaches and fake beards, nets, lace, etc.), saying that he managed to obtain those objects by grabbing them during the séances of the mediums who performed fraudulent materializations (including Mrs. Fay, Mrs. Fairchild and the Berry sisters). The stage costumes, worn out and in precarious conditions, represented the most unlikely characters, from Montezuma to the Queen of Sheba, and the Black Corsair.    

The Boston Herald of February 23, 1890, then published an article entitled Confessions of a Ghost, which reported the graphic description of an inspection-proof mediumistic cabinet, through which it would have been possible for the medium's confederates to enter the séance-room without the device being discovered. This expedient – the article said – was used by the Cowans (two other Boston mediums), and evidence of its use could still be traced in the séance-room. However, the equipment described in the article appeared so complex and so difficult to use, that the same newspaper expressed some doubts about the possibility that it was actually used. From some quotations it may be suspected that the author of the article was the same John Curtis who had pledged to expose the fraudulent mediums of Boston. A praiseworthy purpose, which nevertheless leads us to a simple reflection: since it was believed that the materialized entities were confederates of the mediums, and therefore human beings in flesh and blood, who – as we have seen – could freely interact with the audience, and since the séances could be attended by anyone (the same Curtis claimed to have assisted them several times), the simplest and most decisive way to unmask frauds and cheating would not be to grab one of the entities, thus publicly showing that it was not an apparition but a human being? It does not seem that this has ever happened.        

According to the writer all the entities that appeared during the séances would be impersonated by one or the other medium, by a confederate and by a girl: they could change clothes and camouflage inside a closet connected to the mediumistic cabinet: in particular, the girl would also have played the role of Bertha, Brackett's niece. It is therefore not surprising that the article also mentioned the indignation expressed about it by Brackett himself, who defined this interpretation of the facts as a sacrilegious operation. Although we are too far from that time to investigate the facts more thoroughly, we can not but compare the accuracy and perseverance of Brackett's investigations with the superficiality of Curtis's statements or the observations in the article. In fact, if it is true that in most cases materializations and dematerializations took place inside the mediumistic cabinet, several facts remain (also wanting to omit all the inspections and the experiments carried out by changing the position of the cabinet) that are not in accordance to the fraud hypothesis given by Curtis. We must keep in mind in particular that:

  • on several occasions the entities dematerialized (and in some cases materialized) outside the mediumistic cabinet, and even in Brackett's arms;
  • the phenomena did not occurr in the dark but in a dim light, sufficient to see the audience as well as what was happening near the cabinet and in some cases, when the curtains were open, even inside it;
  • more than once Brackett was able to witness the phenomena of materialization inside the cabinet, verifying the presence of the medium in a trance;
  • sometimes up to six materialized entities were present at the same time;
  • during a séance, up to sixty forms could materialize, some well-defined, others more evanescent, from very young babies (see Marryat's testimony) to older men and women, and since Brackett's eyes were well trained to distinguish details and similarities, it is unlikely that all these personifications could be performed by the medium and only two confederates;
  • in many cases the entities were recognized and identified in their appearance by those present, and could change their appearance and garments almost instantly, even without going back into the cabinet;
  • the luminescent clothes, the luminous stains on the carpet, the materializations of the garments should have been produced by the use of chemical substances and of skilled magic tricks, on the organization of which nothing was explained by those who claimed to have the evidence of fraud.      

A final remark has to be made: the report of materialisations so real, tangible and personalized is so incredible, that the fact that someone claims to have found proof that it is a fraud has an almost reassuring effect, supported by the observation that in our days phenomena of this kind no longer occur. Therefore, those who attribute to the naivety and – let us say it – the idiocy of the observers of the past the ability to be led by the nose by the skilled comedians (who – instead of performing successfully on the stage – played these shows for a few dollars in the popular neighborhoods) win the hand. But frankly, the careful reading of books like that by Brackett, and the comparative study of mediumistic phenomena as a whole, do not allow us to support the thesis that those researchers were unskilled, and that in any case everything could be traced back to camouflage and magic tricks.    


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