Mediumship of Willi
and Rudi Schneider
Nearly four years ago, when Dr. A. Baron van Schrenck-Notzing kindly invited me to some experiments he was then making with Willy Schneider at Munich, I took the opportunity of going to Braünaü-am-Inn, about ninety miles front the Bavarian capital, in order to see the birthplace of the medium whose phenomena had so impressed me. We went by motor car, as the trains at that period were very infrequent. Another reason far our visit was to make the acquaintance of Kapitan
Kogelnik, a retired Austrian naval officer, who had taken such an interest in the boy, Willy. I was disappointed, as Kapitan Kogelnik was away and our time was too limited to hunt up Schneider, père. But my visit was productive of much good, as I commenced a correspondence with the Kapitan which has lasted to this day. He has frequently invited me to Braunau (a small town on the Austrian side of the river Inn), and in the late autumn of 1925 I accepted his invitation to have same sittings with Rudi and Willy Schneider. Mr. Joseph De Wyckoff and Mr. Ray Holmyard, two members of the American Society for Psychical Research, had about this time planned a trip to Graz, to see Frau Silbert (whom they knew), and they invited me to join forces with them; to which I agreed.
We arrived at Braünaü on Wednesday, October 28th, 1925, and were disappointed to find that Rudi had poisoned his leg, was confined to his bed, and could not give any séances. On our way to Braünaü I had made an attempt to see Baron von Schrenck at Munich. But he was away for a short time, so I left my card and, for the second time in my existence, motored the ninety miles or so between Munich in Bavaria and Braünaü in Austria. As I have stated, Rudi was ill in bed, and Willy, we found, had signed a contract to sit again for Baron von Schrenck for a lengthy period.
I was delighted to hear that Willy was back again with the Baron. He knows the Baron and (what is just as important) the Baron knows him; he speaks his language; it was largely due to the Baron that Willy's powers became known in the psychic world; and it seemed fit and proper that the medium should go back to him. The reader will remember that I expressed a sincere hope that some rich scientist or society should take him under their care. (1)
We did not want to leave Braünaü without having some sittings with one of the Schneider boys in his home environment, so we set about getting Willy to come to his father's flat far some séances. I wrote a letter to the Baron, asking him to release the boy for a few days in order that he could visit us at Braünaü. We sent the letter by special messenger to Munich and the Baron willingly released Willy, at the same time saying how sorry he was he missed me in Munich. Willy has again been apprenticed to a dentist at Munich and some little hitch occurred in this connection, so that Willy did not arrive home till Saturday afternoon, October 31st.
While we were awaiting Willy we made the acquaintance of the town and nearly all of its inhabitants, who did not have to guess twice
1. See my report on Willy, Journal, A. S. P. R., August, 1925.
as to our business in their midst. Before we had been in the town many hours we were an such good terms with Herr Schneider and his family that we felt we had known them all our lives. Kapitan Kogelnik made the way easy far us.
Herr Josef Schneider, the father of the boys, is a very intelligent and interesting man, above medium height, 55 years of age. He is a maschinensetzer - or what we should call a linotype compositor or type setter, and lives over the business where he has been employed continuously for forty-one years. His employer - Herr LeopaldHöglinger is the proprietor of the largest shop in the town, and has a large and flourishing book and printing business. We spent some hours with Herr Höglinger, who told us what an exceptionally fine man Herr Schneider was. He (Schneider) has had twelve children, nine boys and three girls, of whom six children only (all boys) are still living. Three of his sons are married, and each has a child. No signs of abnormality can he trace in his, or Frau Schneider's family, and his grandchildren have so far shown no psychic faculties. Frau Schneider is a gentle, unassuming woman.
Of the sons of Herr Schneider who, are still living, Willy, Rudi, Hans, and Karl are all mediums in a greater or lesser degree. Karl, the eldest (aged 30), and Hans (a little younger) are merely auxiliary mediums: i.e., they sometimes help Willy or Rudi to produce phenomena, but can obtain nothing independently - they merely go into a light trance. Rudi is the youngest (17 years), and Willy is 23 years of age. Herr Schneider considers that Rudi is a very powerful medium, and says his phenomena are inexhaustible. He is a jolly, "boyish" sort of youth, and he did not at all like being confined to his bed during our stay. The Schneider family are, of course, Catholics, which is rather curious when one comes to think of it, but I do not think they suffer on that account.
Willy's phenomena were first noticed about six years ago (1919), by accident, by the curious movements of a table when Willy was near it, but not touching it. Rudi's mediumship became apparent two years later (1921).
Braünaü itself is a very old (some 800 years) frontier town, very picturesque, on the banks of the Inn. Simbach, the German town which is at the other end of the bridge which connects the two countries, is not nearly so old or picturesque - but they are both flourishing communities, and everyone seems happy, and no signs of poverty are visible. I noticed an immense difference in the appearance of Braünaü and its 4,000 inhabitants since I last visited the place, which now looks much more prosperous.
Though naturally the fame of the Schneider bays has spread far and wide, very few of the Braünaü inhabitants seem to have had sittings with the boys. The reason is, I think, because their religion does not exactly encourage the individual to dabble in the occult. During the five days we were there, we met all sorts of people and asked all sorts of questions, and psychical research does not appear to interest the great majority of Willy's neighbours. But he gets many noted Continental professors and scientific men who are interested, and it would be interesting to discover what the Braünaüers think all these eminent people came for. But the fact remains that psychical research does not interest the people generally.
THE SÉANCE ROOM.
The séance room used for the sittings with the brothers Schneider is really the principal living room of the Schneider family. It also serves as a bedroom for two of the boys. It is a long, narrow apartment, 30 feet, 3½ inches by 10 feet, 10½ inches. The ceiling is rather low, the room being 8 feet, 5½ inches in height. Looking on the street are two double windows which take up about two-thirds of one end of the room. The room has three doors, one leading to the landing by which entrance is made; one leading into a kitchen; and one leading into a small living room. From the windows of the room to the (main) street below is a sheer drop of 22 feet 5 inches, the apartment being on the second floor. From the nearest door to the back of the cabinet is 12 feet 3 inches.
The principal furniture consists of a cupboard; a couch, 5 feet 10 inches long by 26 inches wide, by 15 inches high, over which is spread a black cloth; two small beds; a wooden table; and several other small pieces of furniture, a stove, chairs, etc., at back of room.
Far the cabinet, two black curtains were hung from the ceiling, suspended by means of hooks. The cabinet reached from top end of couch to right side of left window. It therefore enclosed one window. The span of the pair of curtains was 7 feet 32 inches, the depth of cabinet being 5 feet 1 inch, from angle of wall to aperture in curtain. On the floor, in front of the cabinet, are invariably placed two old black curtains, each 7 feet 4 inches by 2 feet 3 inches. The engel (angel) used to pin the cabinet together at the top is 13½ inches by 10 inches.
The rough square wooden table, which is generally placed in front of centre aperture of curtains, is 17¼ inches by 17 inches, and 19½ inches in height. The weight as far as I could judge (and I think it an under-estimate), is about nine pounds. On the table is
placed a nickel-plated electric table lamp, - estimated at 30 c.p. - red globe, with silk shade, which is covered with a square of muslin. The combined weight of table and lamp is about 12 pounds. I very carefully sounded all walls, ceiling, etc. They are of plaster, with a wooden floor - the boards of which are plainly visible. I was given carte blanche to do as I pleased, go where I liked, and make myself at home. I spent a considerable time on the (Sunday) morning of November 1st making measurements and investigating the structure and conformation of the room - nothing in any way suspicious was found. The cabinet is placed in the very best spot far convincing phenomena. The double windows looking out an the street were difficult to open, creaked when the fasteners were turned, and no entrance could be made from the street without a long ladder. The street is the main thoroughfare, well lighted and (Saturday night) was full of people.
SÉANCE OF SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31ST, 1925.
We arrived at the home of the Schneiders at 8.30, where we found the family and sitters assembled. Rudi Schneider, whose leg was still giving him trouble, lay in one of the beds in the room - and remained there during the whole of the sitting, being unable to rise without the assistance of two persons. The room was unbearably hot and I very carefully took the temperature of it at the time the séance commenced. Twenty-two minutes after we arrived the thermometer stood at 80.5° Fahr. Not a window was open and I could discover no ventilation. It was a cold, still night, outside. The thermometer is a new one, made by Negretti & Zambra for travelling purposes, and is contained in a wooden case. It has an ivory scale, is guaranteed to be correct to 1/10th of a degree, and cost 25/-. The barometric pressure was just over 29.8 inches, and slowly falling.
We carefully examined all the furniture, doors, windows, floor, under the beds, etc. Everything was correct. I then superintended the erecting of the "cabinet" (merely two curtains made of black material), across the top left corner of the room enclosing one window, and suspended from the ceiling by means of hooks.
The windows of the séance room were very carefully prepared to prevent any light or air from reaching the room. The two double windows were fastened on the insides by means of stiff catches. I superintended the closing and fastening. Over the inside (in the room) of each pair of windows were placed two thick blankets, suspended by means of hooks. Then came lace curtains over all. So that between the cabinet and the street were two separate windows, fastened on the insides, two thick blankets, and a lace curtain.
The cabinet took only a few minutes to erect, and was simplicity itself. We next prepared the necessary articles far the sitting. On each curtain we pinned lengthwise a strip of luminous ribbon, so that the slightest movement of the cabinet could be seen. Near the top of the cabinet, at the aperture between the curtains, was pinned the engel: an "angel" with wings, cut out of cardboard and made luminous.
On the floor in front of and under the cabinet were spread two large sheets of black material. The reason for this was that any light coloured pseudopods or luminous hands, lights, etc., would have a good background and could easily be seen. The sheet precluded also the use of any trap-doors or wires, strings, etc., which the sceptical sitter might think were employed in the production of the phenomena.
In front of the cabinet, on the floor, was placed a rectangular wooden table, 19½ inches high, covered with a black cloth. On top of the table was placed a metal electric table lamp, the same height as the table, weighing about 3 pounds, connected to a wall rheostat which was not used at the first séance. The lamp had a red bulb and was shaded. The only other articles were a strip of luminous ribbon and a handkerchief. I had brought with me my long strip of radio-active silk ribbon, (2) three luminous fans, and a very brilliant luminous slate, or plaque. These were in readiness, but were not used.
It might be thought a suspicious circumstance that the cabinet enclosed one of the windows at the end of the room. But I can assure the reader that if there was one part of that room where no trickery could be employed, it was the end of the room where the windows were. The windows overlooked the street; were on the second floor; and were over 22 feet from the pavement. Further, it was Saturday night, and people were continuously passing to and fro under the windows, along the well-lighted main thoroughfare of the town, during the whole of the sitting. Besides all this, the windows could not have been tampered with without instant detection.
All being in readiness, Willy removed his coat and waiscoat and put on a pyjama or dressing jacket. He did not put on his usual pyjama suit; nor did he wear the one-piece tights he sometimes uses. This special clothing would not have added one iota to the effectiveness of the particular control I used at this séance.
When all was ready, we arranged the chairs and couch in a semi-circle in front of the cabinet. The sitters and the order of seating were as follows, commencing clockwise from the medium: Willy ; Harry Price;
2. See Journal, A. S. P. R., August, 1925, p. 436.
Frau Lena Schneider, daughter-in-law of Herr Schneider; Mr. Roy Holmyard; Frau Kapitan Kogelnik; Herr Ramspacher; Frau Rosa Schneider, another daughter-in-law; Herr Josef Schneider, father of Willy ; Frau Elise Schneider, mother of Willy; Frau Ramspacher; Mr. Joseph De Wyckoff. I was solely responsible far the control, and Mr. Holmyard, who has had many years' experience, took the notes, including times, pulse-rates, etc., etc. All the sitters linked hands, Mr. De Wyckoff's two hands being held by Frau Ramspacher, at what would have been otherwise a loose end of the circle. Frau Lena Schneider linked her right arm in my left, since I had no free hand to give her.
I will now describe my control. I placed Willy's hands upon his thighs and firmly gripped his wrists, where I could plainly count his pulse-beats. His legs I placed in front of my chair, and pressed them hard up against the wood with my legs. His legs and feet were in a vice-like grip. His back was to the cabinet, the nearest point to the curtain of any portion of his body being 39 inches. Just before we turned the white light out and switched on the red we carefully noted the thermometer, which read 80.5°. This reading was checked by Mr. Holmyard, and the instrument was placed on a cabinet at the back of the sitters, out of reach of the circle. The reader will realize that the heat was terrible, and, personally, I could hardly stand it. It was a very still night out of doors, and there was no ventilation in the séance room. At 8.52 we changed over from white to red light and the séance commenced. The red light gave enough illumination far me to see my neighbour and Willy plainly, (this visual control thus supplementing my tactual control), and I could also see Mr. De Wyckoff across the circle. In the immediate vicinity of the lamp there was enough light to see plainly any article placed on the table upon which the lamp stood, or on the floor. By my luminous wrist watch I timed the phenomena and took the pulse rate, which I called out to the note-taker. The record follows:
8.52. Séance commenced. Pulse 86 beats to the minute. I challenged all sitters as to the chain control. All answer satisfactorily, the tactual control being perfect.
9.01. Trance commences. Willy's head suddenly falls on my shoulder. Hands twitch violently, and breathing becomes spasmodic. Almost at the same moment Frau Lena Schneider, who is also mediumistic, falls into a semi-trance with violent twitching of the arms, which is, of course, communicated to me by means of her right arm, which is linked in my left.
9.05. Much agitation of the medium. Spasmodic shocks appeared to pass through his body. His breathing much laboured. Muscular
twitching very violent. Frau Lena Schneider nearly normal, the phase having almost passed. Answers normally when spoken to. "Otto," Willy's control, in a loud whisper: "I will try and show you some very good phenomena to-night."
9.08. Mr. De Wyckoff said he felt cold; his feet are much colder. Other sitters say they feel cooler. I feel a cool breeze round my head. Willy is resting his head on my shoulder, trance spasms still violent. Pulse 76.
9.10. I suggest that we sing, as the sitters were entering that tense state which is not good far the production of phenomena. I lead off with "Katharina." This is followed by an Austrian folk song with a good chorus. Pulse 76.
9.14. As the sitters were singing the chorus of last song, curtains of cabinet bulge out and are shaken violently. No one nearer to cabinet than 39 inches. All controls good. Curtains again bulged out as if someone in cabinet.
9.18. Very violent shaking and twisting of the curtains which appear to keep in time with the music. From my position in the circle I have a particularly good view of the aperture between the curtain and wall at right side of cabinet. Gradually a light forms high up at edge of curtain, and I see four semi-luminous "fingers" or rods pushing the curtain at top of cabinet. The other sitters, from their position, cannot see this. The fingers seem articulated and appear to bend. They are visible only for about 30 seconds, and look as if they are joined to a stump or pseudopod, but not like those I saw previously in Munich. (3) Pulse variable and rises to 89.
9.22. Strong, cool breeze appearing to come from cabinet. All the sitters declare that they feel the breeze and that it is much cooler. Again the hand creeps round top of curtain - between curtain and wall. Curtains shaken like a terrier shaking a rat. It is not the hand which is shaking the curtain. Suddenly one of the luminous ribbons appears to be jerked off the right curtain of cabinet. Ribbon falls to ground. Curtains still agitated. Several sitters declare that they are getting cold. Medium much agitated and lifts his (and my) hands off his thighs, on to mine and digs his knuckles into my legs.
9.24. The semi-luminous "hand" behind curtain at top of cabinet reappears but now looks like a short, thick rod, about 8 inches long.
3. See Psyche, April, 1923.
It is much higher than could be reached by a person sitting down. It appeared to grow more luminous, then died away. Curtain moving incessantly as if someone in cabinet trying to tear it down. Willy very distressed.
9.26. We recommence singing, and the medium beats time to our music by banging his fists on my thighs. Curtains still agitated. Curtains twisted by some invisible agency. Luminous "angel" sways up and down and nearly falls. We cry out "Bravo! Otto," "Thank you! Otto," etc.
9.32. Table and lamp moved. They swayed far about a minute and were almost levitated: whatever the force, it is coming from out of cabinet, in aperture between the curtains, near the floor. A moment later a very strong breeze - really a powerful current of air - comes from aperture in curtains and the lamp-shade sways to and fro. Breeze ceases and table and contents are almost levitated. The table and contents move of their own volition (apparently), towards Mr. De Wyckoff. "Otto" then asked that a handkerchief be placed on the table at the base of the lamp. This is done by Frau Ramspacher. She had hardly regained her seat before the handkerchief began to move and after a few seconds it glided off the stool on to the floor with a snake-like movement which was very curious to behold. Medium was at this time very agitated. The piece of luminous ribbon which had been pulled off curtain now began to move on the floor - a zig-zag motion. "Otto" then asked Mr. De Wyckoff to replace the handkerchief on table. This he did: immediately it gradually rose into the air to the height of about 5½, feet. It was then thrown to the floor by the operating entity. It was again "handled" (to use an appropriate term) on the floor in various ways and I could distinctly see a semi-luminous, but incomplete "hand" or pseudopod again lift the handkerchief to about five feet from the floor, where it remained poised in the air for a few seconds and then fell. The "hand" appeared to have four long, articulated fingers. At the same time Mr. De Wyckoff saw three of the fingers grasping and fingering the handkerchief. He again put the handkerchief on the table. It was again lifted up, with a curious floating movement high above the lamp, and then fell. The "hand" was again plainly visible, fingering the handkerchief as it lay upon the floor. The table-cloth on table was now moved, a series of short tugs being given at one side of the cloth. Handkerchief was again put on table by Frau Ramspacher, who then resumed her seat. The handkerchief immediately "dived" off the table on to the floor with a motion which reminded the writer of the movements of a seal when taking to the water. Table and lamp were moved again, the two objects swaying as
though about to fall. All these brilliant phenomena were productive of much "Bravo! Otto," and similar expressions, and the control then said "stop thanking me." Pulse 73.
9.40. Very cool breeze again, and curtains of cabinet expand with the movement reminiscent of the inflation of a balloon. A pale light was now visible at the top of curtain in the aperture between it and the wall, where previously the "hand" had been. It disappeared after a few seconds. "Otto" then asked for the luminous ribbon and a handkerchief to be placed on table under red lamp. Something appeared to be tugging the curtain, the pull coming from near the floor. Pulse 62.
9.44. "Otto" said that medium was very tired as he had given a long sitting the previous night with Baron van Schrenck-Notzing at Munich. "Otto" suggested that if we wanted good phenomena the following evening, we ought to terminate the séance. He said the next sitting would be better. "Otto" then said: " I want Mr. Price to control to-morrow." He was asked at what time and "Otto" said "nine." The medium now appeared to be coming out of trance, and relapsed again; but eventually, with a great deal of labouring, became normal once more. Trance ended at 9.45. Pulse 68. The white light was gradually introduced, and after a few seconds the main white light was switched on.
The first thing we did when white light was available was to examine the thermometer. It stood at 69.5 Fahr. It had fallen eleven degrees during the sitting which lasted under an hour. Five minutes after the sitting had ended the thermometer rose two degrees. At five minutes to ten the mercury had risen to 74.5. Several of the sitters, including all the visitors, stood and watched the mercury slowly rise. At ten o'clock (the hour we left) the thermometer stood at 770 Fahr.
I want the reader to understand clearly the conditions under which this test was made. It was a special test, and two sitters (Mr. Holmyard and myself) very carefully, and independently, took the reading of the instrument when the sitting commenced. The instrument was put an top of a cabinet (not outside wall), and left undisturbed. At the end of the sitting the thermometer had fallen, eleven degrees, and several of the sitters, including myself, watched the mercury gradually rise in the tube, as conditions became normal. This is the second medium only through whom I have absolutely proved that the atmosphere surrounding the sitters gets cooler during the psychic manifestations. The first was, of course, Stella C. (4) Professor Chr. Winther, of Copenhagen, has
4. See Stella C. Some Original Experiments in Psychical Research. London, Hurst and Blackett, 1925. 3/6 net.
also proved through Anna Rasmussen the truth of the hypothesis that the air of the séance room gets cooler during the sittings. There was no hallucination about the breezes at this sitting with Willy. The curtains were in an almost constant state of motion. The breeze racked the lamp-shade for more than a minute. All the sitters felt cool, and some very cold. Mr. De Wyckoff's estimation of the temperature, before we had examined the thermometer, was that it had fallen fifteen degrees. It probably did, but by the time the trance was over and we had switched on the electric light, the mercury had risen somewhat.
This report of our first séance is almost a verbatim copy of the notes we made during the sitting. The complete report, as here published, was written immediately after the séance concluded, and took me till 4.30 in the morning to write it up. It is interesting to note that the name of "Otto," is supposed to be " Otto Bauer," who was of half German, half Italian extraction. At the conclusion of every séance, and as an indication that it is at an end, he says, "slomenkes!" which is similar to a Bohemian word, slomac, meaning "break up."
SÉANCE OF SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST, 1925.
At the conclusion of our previous sitting with Willy, I learned that two sitters from Munich, Professors Gruber and Hildebrand, had telegraphed to say that they would attend Sunday's séance. Professor Karl Gruber, of Munich University, I knew well, as he attended the sittings I had with Willy some years ago when he was in the Bavarian capital. Baron von Schrenck-Notzing happened to mention to Dr. Gruber that I was in Braünaü , so the Professor kindly made the long journey from Munich to Braünaü in order to renew our acquaintance. His friend, Professor Hildebrand, is a doctor of literature and head of the famous Munich firm of publishers and booksellers of the same name. I had not previously met him. Their journey was not wasted, as they were participants in the most amazing, convincing and instructive séance with this medium that probably has ever been published; in fact, I believe it is the best sitting Willy has ever given under the same conditions of control. This is all the more remarkable as several sittings just previous to those I am now recording were negative. In compiling this protocol I am really concerned lest I understate the variety and magnificence of the phenomena, thus giving a false rendering of the séance.
The control was identical to that imposed on the previous evening, and I will not detail it. The reader will remember that "Otto" on the
previous night instructed me again to take charge of the control. Willy wore the same outdoor clothes and dressing jacket as previously. I thoroughly searched him, searched the room, superintended the erection of the cabinet, the blocking up of the windows, the arranging of the sitters, and fastening of the doors. The control of the hands and feet was exactly as described in the report of the last séance. The same, red light was put on the same wooden table in the accustomed position - the usual curtains and floor-coverings being used. In fact, the conditions of the séance of October 31st were duplicated in our sitting of November 1st. Mr. Roy Holmyard again took all the notes (and he had barely a moment's respite from writing), and independently took the thermometer readings both before and after the séance. On comparison, our readings always tallied. As far as possible I took the times and pulse-rates, but Willy's body was in an almost constant state of motion - often violent motion - and my task was rendered difficult on this account, the movement of my wrist watch hindering me somewhat. So the reader will not find as many times and rates as I should have liked. The account of the phenomena is practically a verbatim copy of the notes, and this report was nearly completed in the Hotel Erzherzog Johann, Graz, the following day. Rudi Schneider was in the bed asleep when we started, asleep in the interval, and asleep at the conclusion of the séance. He has a very nasty wound in the leg (I examined it); cannot walk a step without assistance; and it will be probably three months before he can give another sitting. I understand that Baron von Schrenck has advised his removal to a sanatorium. In case any reader should think that Rudi (the only uncontrolled person in the room) could have interfered in any way, I must point out that his bed was on the far side of the sitters; he could not walk; the semi-circle of sitters, in close formation, reached from wall to wall; and that the red light was bright enough far us to see one another. I could plainly see the outline of every sitter and the other sitters made similar statements. I again brought with me my luminous ribbon (42 yards long), three luminous fans, and a luminous slate, or plaque. The articles were really luminous (and not merely phosphorescent), the paint being made by myself out of zinc sulphide containing some radium bromide. The articles were thus very brilliant. The usual strips of luminous ribbon were pinned to the curtains, the luminous "angel" being attached to the top of the cabinet.
The sitters included some who had not attended Saturday's séance. Reading clockwise, commencing from the medium, they were as follows: Willy, Harry Price, Professor Karl Gruber, Frau Rosa Schneider, Mr. Ray Holmyard (taking all notes), Herr Ramspacher, Carl Schneider, Frau Schneider, Herr Josef Schneider, Frau Ramspacher, Professor Hilde-
brand, Mr. Joseph De Wyckoff. All hands were linked, both of Mr. De Wyckoff's hands being held by Professor Hildebrand. Mr. Holmyard's arms were linked (because he was writing) in those of his neighbours.
Just before (at 9.05) commencement of sitting the thermometer read 750 Fahrt. At commencement of sitting (9.10), it read 760 Fahrt. The night was cool; the barometer low, 29.3 inches, falling. The health of the medium and all the sitters was good. I particularly inquired about the health of the Schneider family. The fact that we had with us four mediums (Willy, Rudi, Carl and Rosa) of the Schneider family may have accounted for the magnificent and amazing phenomena we witnessed. All being ready, the white light was turned out and the red switched on. I challenged the control of all the sitters: All answered satisfactorily. To conserve space I will designate the sitters by their initials. The following is a verbatitn copy of the notes, my interpolations being in square brackets:
9.10. Pulse of medium, 80 beats to the minute. The pulse is quite regular, but strong.
9.15. Trance commences, with the typical twitching of the hands and quickened respiration associated with this medium. Simultaneously with Willy, Carl falls into a trace which is much less agitated than that of his brother. Carl, in his trance, states that he can plainly see "Otto," Willy's control, standing by the side of the small table. Herr Ramspacher reported this conversation.
9.17. Willy's trance very agitated, with violent spasmodic movements. [He digs his fists into my thighs.]
9.20. "Otto" said fester, i.e., "hold tighter," meaning he wants the sitters to clasp one another more tightly, in order [mentally] to stiffen up the circle. Willy's trance deepens.
9.22. Right curtain of cabinet bulges out as if filled with wind. Every movement of cabinet plainly visible on account of vertical luminous strips. Medium very agitated; respiration quicker.
9.24. Right curtain again sways to the right towards Willy, whose position is such that his back is practically towards the cabinet. Willy extremely agitated. H.P. feels on face slight breeze coming from cabinet. Both curtains sway towards table. "Otto" here says that he will awaken Carl from trance. Both curtains of cabinet bellow out again. Ramspacher announces that Carl is normal again.
9.26. "Angel" on cabinet swings violently, then curtains swing out. H.P. reports short column [estimated at 12 inches] of light between the top of right side of right curtain and wall. (He is in a very advantageous position to see this.) "Otto" asks that handkerchief be placed over lamp. J.D.W. places his silk handkerchief in the
prescribed position. [This extra covering on the top of the lamp does not appreciably affect the illumination of the circle.] Circle commence to sing. Medium quieter. Pulse 74.
9.30. Curtains swing to right again, and right curtain is twisted by some invisible agency in an anti-clockwise direction; the curtain is twisted into a thick rope. "Otto" asks that handkerchief be taken off lamp and put an table, in full light of lamp. "Otto" asks that circle cease singing, but talk instead. Curtains flying in all directions. J.D.W, places handkerchief in prescribed position.
9.35. Handkerchief an table moves slightly. A very strong breeze, felt by all the sitters, sweeps the room. Handkerchief lifted up (as if by hand underneath), raised about one foot from table, danced about in air for about five seconds, and then fell on table. "Otto" then asked for a tambourine to be placed on table. He was told that no tambourine was available, but that a bell could be had. "Otto" replied that he would use the bell later. Curtains then bulged again as if by some being inside it. Handkerchief again lifted from table, and J.D.W. and H. P. - simultaneously reported that they could distinguish from their viewpoints, a hand holding it. Handkerchief fell on floor. Prof. K.G. "asked "Otto" to bring handkerchief to him, but this was not done. J.D.W. and H.P. reported simultaneously that they could see two pseudopods or hand-like terminals with fingers, crawling over handkerchief. "Otto" then asked that some luminous object be put on the table. One of H. P.'s fans [lace, with red, yellow, and green luminous flowers painted an it] was then put an the table by J.D.W., together with a strip of luminous ribbon. [It will be understood that when a sitter leaves his seat or breaks the circle to place an object an table, his neighbours immediately connect up, re-admitting the sitter when his task is completed.] "Otto" requested that the handkerchief be lifted off floor and placed on table; this was done by J.D.W.
9.45. Curtains swung out, nearly touching lamp. J.D.W. and H. P. simultaneously reported fully-materialized hand [small, like a child's] fingering handkerchief. Handkerchief rises for a second and drops on table. Sitters commence singing, but "Otto" asks them to speak, not sing. Curtains twisted, and "hand" again lifted handkerchief clear of table for about five seconds and drops it on floor. All sitters see this phenomenon. Handkerchief glides about on floor with snake-like movements. "Otto" asked that handkerchief be again put on table. J.D.W. complies. Curtains dance up and down and expand as if filled with air. H.P. reported a pseudopod, stump-like, [of a grey, or dirty white colour] with two "fingers" sliding under handkerchief. At the same time, a semi-luminous "hand" is seen under the table,
crawling about. H.P. asks "Otto" that the fan (which is closed) be lifted. This is done, the "hand" clutching one side of fan, which it lifts, the fan opening owing to its weight. [Weight of fan, 12 ounces.] Fan is waved about and falls behind table. "Otto" asks that the handkerchief be folded in two; J.D.W. does this, and handkerchief is then slowly slid off table on to floor, and is then thrown back on to table by entity, with one corner lapping over at side of table nearest cabinet. Handkerchief is again lifted in air about two feet above table and swayed about for about 10 seconds, it having the appearance of being suspended by means of a rod though no support is visible.
The handkerchief was then crumpled up and dropped on table. Handkerchief again lifted as if a hand were beneath it.
Again the handkerchief is lifted and waved about near the cabinet aperture, about 2 feet above table. After about 10 seconds it falls and J.D.W. replaces it on table. "Otto" volunteers the statement that he will allow J.D.W. to feel the "hand" a little later. Handkerchief again lifted about 12 inches and falls on table. Then a semi-materialized hand, visible to all sitters, handles the handkerchief, and lifts up the fan from floor. The pseudopod folds the handkerchief over the open fan, in the full light of the red lamp. All sitters observe this phenomenon. [I must point out that all phenomena which occur above or an the table, or on the floor at sides or front of table, and all movements of the cabinet, are visible to all the sitters. The movements of objects behind the table (i.e., between table and cabinet) are seen much better by J.D.W. and myself, owing to our positions at extremities of semi-circle.] Two "hands," not quite perfectly materialized, are now quite visibly assisting in the manipulations of handkerchief and fan. Medium calmer. Pulse 60. H.P. reports cool breeze on right side of face. Cabinet suddenly shoots out. H.P. reports that breeze has now shifted to his knees - very cold. Handkerchief and fan are now taken off table, and fall on floor, right of table. Fan is spread out and is lifted just above the floor - estimate two inches. Fan glides behind table and H. P. reports that a dark pseudopod, like a fist, is slowly passing and repassing over luminous fan. This is done 27 times, both H.P. and J.D.W. seeing this phenomenon. Lamp partially levitated arid rocked to and fro. It quickens its pace and nearly overbalances. Frau R. S. exclaims: "Don't do that or the lamp will fall." Rockings cease, but lamp is violently shaken.
10.07. Pulse 54. "Otto" asked that handkerchief be placed on table. J.D.W. does this. Curtains bulge and luminous "angel" at top of cabinet swings to and fro like a pendulum. Very cold breeze felt by nearly all sitters. Handkerchief on table swells out like an air-ball,
as if some substance is materializing beneath it. Handkerchief "deflates" and then displays movement such as would happen if a snake were disporting itself beneath it. Curtains shaken violently, are twisted, and shoot out into the room. Circle commence singing "Katharina" [which has a fascinating lilt in it]. Handkerchief rises from table about two feet, and bobs up and down to tune of song, keeping perfect time; it drops back to table, where it remains motionless. Table, with lamp, is "shoved" a few inches away from cabinet: no propelling agency seen. Handkerchief is picked up by pale, semi-luminous stump and is thrown on top of lamp-shade. "Stump" vanishes in a flash. Pulse 55 [about 10.12 o'clock]. Handkerchief then jerked off lamp like a flash of lightning. Medium very agitated, digs his fists in H.P.'s thighs, laboured breathing. Sitters commence singing. Handkerchief reappears an table, and dances to the music. The contour of handkerchief suggests a pointed "terminal" supporting it. Handkerchief then becomes "lifeless" and sinks upon table. [A most interesting effect; it was really as if the piece of silk had suddenly become "dead."] "Otto" then announces that we should rest for twenty minutes, and that the white light at far end of room should be turned on. This is done by Herr Ramspacher.
10.16. End of trance. H.P. speaks to medium, who answers normally. Willy is covered with perspiration, but otherwise no apparent effect of trance state. Pulse 52. Thermometer, 700 Fahrenheit. [H.P. at once examines cabinet, curtains, windows, articles used, table, lamp, etc., etc. - nothing abnormal.]
SÉANCE OF SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST, 1925.
During the interval three new sitters arrived, viz.: Kapitan and Frau Kapitan Kogelnik, who have watched the growth of Willy's mediumship with the keenest interest; and Frau Höglinger, wife of Herr Schneider's employer. No refreshments were taken during the intermission, but nearly everyone smoked. When time approached to resume, I again examined Willy, cabinet, curtains, windows, doors, etc.; all normal. Circle forms, and R.H. again consents to take notes, times, etc. He confirms that thermometer stands at 740 Fahr. Circle then complete, and Herr Schneider switches over from white to red light. Table, lamp, cabinet, etc., exactly as for first portion. Control identical to previous description. Circle is composed in following order, commencing clockwise from the medium: Willy, Harry Price, Professor
Karl Gruber, Frau Rosa Schneider, Mr. Roy Holmyard, Frau Kapitan Kogelnik, Frau Hoglinger, Karl Schneidcr, Herr Ramspacher, Kapitan Kogelnik, Frau Schneider, Herr Josef Schneider, Frau Ramspacher, Professor Hildebrand, Mr. Joseph De Wyckoff. All is in readiness at:
10.36. Séance commences. H.P. challenges sitters as to control. All answer satisfactorily. Pulse 68.
10.38. Willy in trance. Usual symptoms. [As previously described. ]
10.42. "Otto" cries out "hold tighter" [ fester. The reader will, of course, realize that "Otto," the name of Willy's alleged "control" or operating entity, speaks through the medium's vocal organs in a hoarse whisper, not distinguishable from his normal voice.] Pulse 70.
"Otto" calls for conversation [sprechen]. Medium very agitated. Curtains "tremble" and gradually expand. H.P. sings "Oh! Katharina," the medium beating time with his fists on his (H.P.'s) thighs. "Otto" calls for hand-bell [luminous], which was placed by J.D.W. on that side of table nearest the aperture between curtains. J.D.W. resumes his seat, and curtains at once bellow out. He then places H.P.'s luminous fan and the handkerchief on table, and resumes his seat. J.D.W. reports seeing hand came out at cabinet aperture and lift fan from table and slowly take it to floor. All see movement of fan. H.P., R.H., and several other sitters simultaneously report seeing luminous fan moving on floor, behind table. [The movements were as if being "nosed" by an animal.] "Hand" shoots out of cabinet; and rings bell, which is thrown over lamp, strikes H.P.'s foot and rolls, under table. Fan then lifted about two feet from floor and tossed to other side of table, facing circle. The light then goes out and an again rapidly - several times. [I examined the lamp at termination of sitting and found that some portion of bulb-holder had been loosened during the séance, causing the light to go out if lamp were tilted. But, curiously enough, no one saw the movement of the lamp which caused the periods when circuit was broken.] Table then rocked and shook violently. Handkerchief moved several times, twice clear of the table. Once, it again appeared as if a finger were supporting it; it drops to table. Circle commences to sing. Curtains dance up and down in time with the singing. A very strong breeze. H.P. sings "Oh! Katharina." Handkerchief immediately "jumps up," [the exact effect] stands an end, and dances on the table to the tune of the song.
It is then thrown over to J.D.W., who replaced it on table. Handkerchief rises from table, held by a half-formed "hand" or pseudopod. [Distance from medium about 30 inches.] H.P, reports that from his position he can see the whole "hand," wrist and arm, all ill-shapen, rising
from the floor. [This materialization - estimated at 24 inches high took place behind right corner of table - the corner nearest the cabinet. The "arm" reminded me of a swan's neck and swayed with a peculiar motion like a pendulum].
The sitters see the "hand," with apparently two fingers only, and a short stumpy thumb, rising and swaying above the table. The handkerchief is again thrown over to J.D.W. Carl Schneider reported to be in trance.
"Otto" called for "the luminous ribbon" [the "famous" Mr. Price's Paris ribbon "of the Vienna sittings; (5) it is 42 yards long, 14 inches wide.] J.D.W. placed it on table, with ends dangling. He resumed his seat and immediately two irregular-shaped "fists" pulled it off the table on to the floor, tossed it about, and eventually tied its centre into a somewhat complicated knot. H.P. asked that the ribbon be brought to him. Immediately the ribbon, held by a dark "fist" or pseudopod (the second one had disappeared), went over to him and tapped him about six times on the right knee. [It was a series of regular taps, quite hard, of, I estimate, about 8 ounces pressure. As the very luminous ribbon (and the fist) touched my knee, Willy spasmodically drew my hands nearer to him, as if to prevent my touching the materialization.] Ribbon travelled back to near table, and fell upon the floor.
"Otto" asked that the ribbon be again placed on table. J.D.W. does this. Circle commence to sing. Table moves slightly. H.P. reports that a "hand " is between table and cabinet aperture, and is touching ribbon. At the same moment, ribbon is pulled on to floor. J.D.W. takes one end of ribbon., the other end being on floor, at right of table. He pulled the ribbon taut, gradually increasing the pressure until it became so great that all his strength was exerted. He declared that the ribbon appeared nailed to the floor, and that he exerted enough strength to pull over a human being. [The ribbon is very strong, is made of silk, 14 inches wide.] J.D.W. relaxes his hold and ribbon falls to floor. He again picks up the end of ribbon nearer to him, the other end being to the right of the table. J.D.W. pulls the ribbon taut, slowly, and about five feet from his end the ribbon is again gripped by a terminal or pseudapod, and "Otto" says "pull." A most amusing tug-of-war then ensues between the sitter and the entity, the former not exerting all his strength, of course. Backwards and forwards they pulled for about thirty seconds. J.D.W. then exerts more strength,
5. See A.S.P.R. Journal for August, 1925, p. 436.
and finally the whole of his strength, but he cannot get possession of the whole of the ribbon. [These tug-of-war episodes were highly diverting to the circle, which roared with laughter.] The tug-of-war effects were repeated several times during about five minutes. Medium very agitated, and drops his head on H.P.'s shoulder. It was quite obvious to all the circle that the strength exerted by the sitter would have unbalanced an ordinary human being; and if the ribbon had not been made of strong silk, it would have snapped. H.P. then called out, "Bring me the ribbon, Otto," and immediately the ribbon travelled round the table and the "hand" which was visible, tapped him several times an the right knee. H.P. remarks that it feels like a steel ball tapping him. The medium instinctively draws H.P.'s hands towards himself, so that no contact should be made. Pseudapod then threw ribbon in air and dematerialized, ribbon falling on floor,
"Otto" then asked for H.P.'s luminous slate [the kindergarten variety, wooden frame, black fibre "slate," one side made luminous. Size of slate, 10½"x 8"; size of luminous portion, 8½" x 6¼" ; thickness, 5/16"; weight, 5ozs.]; J.D.W. placed this on table. Immediately, the slate was thrown over lamp towards sitters. This was done over and over again, a "hand" shooting out of aperture between cabinet curtains and tossing the slate to the sitters. Slate finally left on table. Medium seems very exhausted and limp, reclining on H.P.'s shoulder. Pulse 55 [at. about 11.20].
"Otto" calls for spielzeug (playthings), and the best that could be done was to throw on the table a bunch of keys [belonging, I think, to Prof. K. G.]. Circle commence singing, the table rocks and dances to the time of the music [combined weight of table and lamp, about 12 pounds]. Bunch of keys grasped by a "hand," creeping over edge of table, and thrown over lamp: they fell at feet of Herr J. S.
H.P. had a curtain-ring and loop of cord in his pocket. He asked Prof. K.G. to secure this and place on table - this was done. They were found eventually on the floor. Electric light goes out and relights three times. No normal explanation of this effect.
11.25. [It was impossible to take the times more frequently, as Willy's hands were in a constant state of motion, which made it difficult for me to take times and pulse-rates. In periods of comparative quiescence I accomplished this, however.] Strong cool breeze felt by all sitters. "Otto" calls to Karl, still in trance, to come over and help him. Karl leaves the circle, crosses very slowly [reminded me of a blind man feeling his way], and joins his brother. Karl grasps his brother's hands: H.P. grasps all four hands. All sitters move up one
seat, Karl taking the place of Professor K.G. Karl's hands still controlled by H.P., in whose lap they rest. Karl breathing very spasmodically and with apparent difficulty. Prof. K.G. adds his right hand to pile on H.P.'s lap. Willy's head sinks on H.P.'s shoulder. H.P. reports that his left leg is curled round those of Karl, his right leg still pressing Willy's legs to chair. [I had complete control of bath Karl and Willy.]
A few minutes later "Otto" directs that Karl return to his old place. This he does, sitters resuming their former seats. Almost at the moment he sat dawn, Karl came out of trance. Willy very violent and agitated. J.D.W. reports cool breeze by his feet. Light in red lamp flickers on and off - no normal explanation. J.D.W. again reports very strong, cool, continuous breeze. H.P. expresses a doubt that flickering of lamp is normal or due to faulty construction of bulb-holder. J.D.W. asks "Otto" to switch off light for an appreciable period. Light immediately goes out for about half a minute. Sitters cry out "Bravo! Ottol" "Otto" then requests J.D.W. to tighten [by screwing] the lamp in the socket. This is done. "Otto" asks H.P to sing "Katharina" again. This is done, the circle joining in the chorus, and the medium beating time with his fists on H.P.'s knees. [The reader will understand that every movement of Willy's hands was followed by my hands which were controlling the medium.] "Otto" requested that light of lamp be dimmed somewhat. This is effected by J.D.W. by placing a silk handkerchief over the shade. [As a matter of fact, it made no appreciable difference to the intensity of the light.] Lamp now oscillated violently, and flickered on and off. Lamp, with full light, now made four complete revolutions, anti-clockwise, on the table, twisting the cord. [An exceptionally brilliant item.] "Otto" now asked that lamp be revolved back again to normal. This was done by J.D.W. Luminous slate and the handkerchief were on the table during this phenomenon.
H. P. reports seeing a luminous mass on floor, between table and curtains, [roughly 2 feet square, like a semi-luminous deflated balloon]. Curtains swing out and are twisted. A "hand" darts out from luminous mass (which is now smaller), snatches handkerchief off slate; throws it down; picks it up again; and replaces it on table, carefully covering the slate again. Lamp again flickers. Handkerchief again snatched off table, and thrown on to top of lamp shade. Light flickers and handkerchief is removed from lamp by a pseudopod, in the shape of a half-formed "fist."
"Otto" now asked J.D.W. to remove luminous slate. This he does. "Otto" says he will have a game with him, and a "hand"
raises the handkerchief from floor and J.D.W. is invited by "Otto" to take it. He tries, but handkerchief is quickly taken into cabinet. This is done over and over again for seven or eight minutes. However quickly J.D.W. tries to take handkerchief, the entity is far quicker and the sitter is never able to touch it. Then, instead of disappearing into the cabinet, the handkerchief is slipped round to side of lamp farthest from the sitter, [i.e., opposite me]. This is done over and over again, the handkerchief jumping from one side of table to the other in a fraction of a second. [A most amazing phenomenon. The handkerchief "flew" round the lamp and table with lightning-like rapidity, and it was quite impossible for a human being to cope with the movements of the pseudopod. The flying handkerchief left a trail of light behind it (an illusion, of course), which reminded me of a piece of lighted rope being twirled round and round; or of the more familiar Catherine wheel, the effect of which is due to the sensation's persisting as an afterimage for a comparatively lengthy period.]
"Otto" now asked J.D.W. to guess the whereabouts of the handkerchief. If the sitter said behind the table, it would appear from under the table; if J.D.W. hazarded a guess that the handkerchief was in the cabinet, it would reveal itself by falling on the table. This play with the handkerchief lasted for some minutes, [the circle rocking with laughter at the vain endeavours of the sitter to secure the handkerchief]. Medium's legs trembling violently. Pulse 52 [about 11.45]. "Otto" then waved handkerchief in the air, and threw it an J.D.W.'s lap. Once more the handkerchief was placed on the table, and once mare it was picked up like a flash of lightning, waved in the air, and fell back on the table.
" Otto " now asked that lamp be taken off table, table removed, and lamp placed in centre of circle. This was done, the lamp being about -two feet from R. H. (who was taking notes). J. D. W. reports a strong `breeze on his left. Curtains of cabinet move as if by a sudden gust. Medium quiet. Pulse 55. [At about ll.50.]
"Otto" now asks J.D.W. to roll up his two handkerchiefs and place one near the base of the lamp, on the cabinet side, and one near aperture in curtain. This was done, and a moment later the one near curtain was moved towards J.D.W.'s feet. This effect was repeated. J.D.W. then spread one handkerchief out flat near the cabinet, and it was at once picked up and thrown back to him. No pseudopod visible.
"Otto" asked for a piece of pencil and a sheet of paper to be placed near lamp, on floor, and he would try to write a message. R.H. placed his pencil and a sheet from his pad in the prescribed position, but nothing happened and immediately after the medium cried
"slomenkes" and showed signs of returning to normal, exactly at midnight. Pulse about 58, irregular.
[The white light is gradually turned on; I speak to Willy, who answers normally; and I relinquish my control. Medium very hot, but not particularly exhausted. Temperature, carefully checked, 720 Fahr. I carefully go over the cabinet, windows, etc., etc., once more, but everything satisfactory. Professors Gruber and Hildebrand, with Willy and Karl and his wife, and J.D.W., R.H., and H.P, adjourn to a neighbouring cafe and discuss this most wonderful sitting (my tenth with this medium) - in all probability the most interesting sitting, held under rigid test conditions, that has ever been published.]
I suppose the reader will expect me to say a few words in conclusion, but really there is little to be said: Need I reiterate that not one af the phenomena we saw during our stay could have been produced normally with the severe control I imposed? Maskelyne, with his proverbial "two tons of machinery" - or ten tons, come to that - could not have produced, under the same conditions, one single phenomenon without immediate detection. No machine is capable of imparting "life" to a handkerchief by means of which it will dart, with lightning-like rapidity, round and round an electric lamp like a moth round a candle. And machines do not possess intelligence. "Otto" obeyed our requests over and over again, and even entered into the fun of the thing. If the catch-as-catch-can, and the hide-and-seek, and the tug-of-war were superhuman, the operating entity possessed some very human attributes, and for the moment we forgot that we were playing with a discarnate intelligence - it was so very "lifelike."
The conditions under which we had our sittings were ideal. We were in the home of the medium whom I had known for years. By the time Willy arrived we were persona grata with the entire family - not only with the family, but the whole of Braünaü! After we had been in the place two or three days we could hardly cross the road or enter a shop without someone saying "good-morning" or touching his hat. We photographed the school children (a proceeding so popular that we had "deputatians" asking for pictures from those "unfortunates" who had been left out); we photographed the frontier officials; we photographed the "oldest inhabitant"; we bought out the local tobacconist; we made purchases at most of the shops; we spent an evening in the local hostelry with the elite of the place; laughing and joking and consuming some of the very excellent Pilsner available - in fact,
we freely fraternized with everyone in the town. The reader may regard all this as trivial, and that it has nothing to do with the phenomena; he will be sadly mistaken. We were creating an atmosphere of friendship, of trust, and of equality which reflected its beneficent influence on the medium's family and the medium himself - with what results the reader has seen.
Another factor which probably contributed to our brilliant success at Sunday's sitting is that the medium was then very fresh, having been with us for a long walk in the country, finishing up with lunch. It is doubtful if the assistance of Karl's power helped the phenomena to any extent.
The temperature of the séance room fell undoubtedly during our sittings, and I can think of no normal explanation of this phenomenon. With a number of people in a closed room, the mercury rises, of course. The pulse-rate is comparable to what we experienced in Vienna, and readers should consult (6) the chart I compiled on that occasion. The medium appears to lose a considerable amount of vitality during the trance state, but rapidly recovers when restored to normal. None of the sitters is apparently affected.
I have now arrived at those vital questions "How?" and "Why?" and it is here that I must take leave of my readers. Baron von Schrenck-Notzing favours the theory that Willy possesses a secondary personality, which is dissociated under certain conditions. It is a fact that Willy is cognizant of what is happening to "Otto" ; what "Otto" is going to do; and what "Otto" has done - without the use of his normal senses. In fact, Willy is "Otto," and "Otto" is Willy - a oneness which is separable, yet not separated. Curiously enough, "Otto" differs in many respects from his predecessor, "Minna," an alleged entity whose acquaintance I made during my visit to Munich in 1922. "Otto," I think, is harder to please. The spiritistic theory is not easily applied to the Willy phenomena, which are purely physical. Now that Baron von Schrenck has recovered his protege, it is hoped that by continuous and systematic experiment, some new light will be shed upon the dynamics of these most interesting manifestations.
6. See A.S.P.R. Journal, August, 1925, p.424.
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