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vol. 1, p. 26
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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< Remarkable Spiritual Manifestations in Philadelphia (continued from page 1-25) >

such as would result if a heavy man should jump from the ceiling of the room upon the floor. Each jump was accompanied by a loud whoop, that could have been heard several squares.

At one of the subsequent séances, while the circle were singing, “Tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,” the voice of “Richard” was heard accompanying the singing, and at the same time a heavy tramping on the floor followed the voice about the room, keeping time to the singing, Mrs. Holmes’s voice indicating that she was in her seat at the same time.

At all the séances I have been describing, what are called spirit-lights were frequently seen to form in different parts of the room and different elevations. These lights are very peculiar and distinct. Nothing like them has ever been or can he produced by human ingenuity. If no other manifestations except the occurrence of these lights should take place through the mediumship of Mrs. Holmes, they alone would suffice to rank her high in the list of remarkable mediums. Why is it that this most wonderful and mysterious phenomenon has not arrested the attention of scientists, and induced then to investigate the philosophy which can alone explain its occurrence? To suppose the medium capable of producing those lights hy any chemical, mechanical or physical agency is to credit her with a skill, as a trickster, that is inconceivable.

Another manifestation which occurred each evening was the simultaneous fanning of the air in the faces of all in the circle—a thing which it would have required many pairs of hands and a dozen fans to have produced. This took place without a sound being heard such as would have been necessary to produce, by any mechanical means, so violent an agitation of the air over so large a space.

Your space will not allow me to minutely describe all the interesting and amusing incidents of the dark séances, or to give even a synopsis of the entertaining communications of “Rosie,”

“Irish Ann,” and “Belle,” other guides of the medium. Their prompt and intelligent answers to the numerous and puzzling questions which were asked them were as entertaining as they were philosophical and instructive. Mrs. Holmes must be possessed of extraordinary means of knowledge, if she could give such evidence of superhuman insight as these guides displayed. With this general description of the occurrences in the dark circles I will pass to what occurred in what are called the light circles. Before doing this, it is but just to state the fact that Mrs. Holmes’s mediumsliip, until recently, was principally used to produce the manifestations in the dark séances; the materializations occurred mainly through Mr. Holmes as the medium. Since the breaking down of Mr. Holmes’s health Mrs. Holmes has been the only medium, both in the light and dark séances at which she has been present.

In the light, séances of our circle, Mrs. Holmes sat in a chair, in the parlor, three feet from a thick, dark curtain which was suspended in the doorway leading to the sitting-room in which the rest of the circle sat. In this curtain was a diamond-shaped opening, about fourteen by fourteen inches in dimensions. A smaller curtain was hung so as to cover this aperture. The circle was formed in two rows. Tile front row formed a semi-circle around the doorway, four or four and a half feet from the curtain. The second row was close behind the first, but no one in it was more than seven or eight feet distant from the curtain.

The lights were lowered until the room was left in semi-darkness, although the articles in the room were plainly distinguishable. Hands were then joined, and the circle united hi singing. After some minutes a face appeared at the aperture in the curtain, but so indistinctly and imperfectly formed as not to be recognizable. It reappeared several times, and finally became distinct enough to be recognizable as the face known as that of “John King.” If a materialized form (“John King ”), in this instance he failed to display his usual power. He could neither speak, nor would he allow any one to approach the aperture. At this séance a second face, apparently that of a negro woman, appeared, but no one could recognize it. Surprised at this unexpected visitation, the question, “Is it for me?” was asked by several, to which the answer “No” was rapped. I then asked, “Is it for me?” when the answer “Yes” was rapped. I was puzzled at this reply, and tried to conceive who it could be. The same form repeatedly returned to the aperture, but I could not recognize it. I again and again asked, "Can it be for me?” always being answered “Yes.” I finally thought of a colored woman who had lived with my parents in my early childhood, and asked, “Is it Mary Scott?” and was answered “Yes,” both by the raps and the emphatic nodding of the head. It having been nearly fifty years since I had seen her, I could not recognize her. This ended the materializations for that evening.

The next evening the materializations were very indistinct, and although several attempts were made to manifest faces in the aperture, nothing that was clearly distinguishable could be seen. The rooms were very warm and close, and the guides in the dark circle had told us the materialization of forms would be difficult. Although disappointed we were in a measure prepared for it.

At the third light circle the manifestations were much more distinct, and were witnessed in a stronger light, than had been allowed on the other occasions. It is proper to observe that frequently during the light circles the request would he made to raise or lower the light, as the forms which appeared were more or less distinct; the stronger light being called for when the forms appeared most distinctly. This evening a female face appeared at the aperture, which was easily recognized as that of the female form known as “Katie King,” and which was familiar to most of the circle. She spoke to the circle, bidding them good evening, calling them individually by name as she did so. She called Dr. Fellger to the aperture, extended her hand through it, and rested it upon his bead, and held a lengthened conversation with him. She subsequently called me up, and I also conversed with her. Both Dr. FeLlger and myself rare confident that neither Mrs. Holmes nor any other person in permanent physical form could have deceived us in our recognition of that figure as being the same we had seen appear under strictly test conditions many times before A second female face appeared the same evening, but too indistinct and imperfectly formed to be recognizable. After several had asked, “Is it for me?” and been answered “No,” by the shaking of the head, I repeated that question, and was answered “Yes.” Seeing the face to be that of a young person, I asked, “Is it my daughter ‘Lilly’?” and the form nodded assent. I asked to be permitted to approach the aperture of the curtain, but was refused, the form shaking the head. If this was the materialized form of my daughter she failed to manifest herself to me so that I could recognize her. I have seen her materialized perfectly, several times, when sitting with Dr. Henry Slade, of New York.

At the fourth séance of the series both “Katie” and “John King” appeared many times. Both talked a great deal to us, “John King’s” voice being a singular blending of a male and female voice. In the dark séance, just before, “Belle,” the principal spirit guide of Mrs. Holmes, had mentioned that “John King” had not spoken through Mrs. Holmes, because of the difficulty he found in using the lungs of a female to speak. Through Mr. Holmes he had found little difficulty in speaking in his natural voice, and as he could not do so through Mrs. Holmes, he had refrained from trying to speak through her mediumship. This evening the identity of “John” and “Katie King” were unquestionable. Several of the circle were called up to the aperture, and saw both faces at a distance of a few inches, and conversed with them. The lips appeared to mover precisely as if uttering the words which were spoken. “John King” frequently grasped his long, full beard in his hand and stroked it downwards. His hand was distinctly seen, which was that belonging apparently to a large and powerful man. Most certainly it was twice as large as the hand of Mrs. Holmes. He several times put his hand to his lips and kissed it loudly to the ladies in the circle.

The occurrences in the fifth light circle were as remarkable as they were unexpected. Not only did “Katie” and “John King” appear at the aperture very plainly and clearly, in a strong light, but “Katie” twice appeared, in full form, under the most remarkable circumstances. After appearing many times at the aperture, and conversing with those in the circle so as to leave no doubt as to her identity in the minds of those who were familiar with her features, she requested the light to be lowered, and promised to try to come out into the sitting-room. The room being dimly lighted, after a few moments a cloudy phosphorescent light was seen in front of the curtain. It gradually concentrated until a light and semi-transparent female form could be distinctly seen by all in the circle. It remained for some moments, and then faded away. The curtain was not raised or moved, and the figure must have formed on the opposite side of the curtain from the medium. It was not more than four and a half feet high, and the other proportions were symmetrically consistent with that stature. She appeared a second time in the same manner, apparently taking form in front of the curtain and vanishing as before. This form was seen by the front circle at distances varying from two to five feet. The table on which the instruments were lying was placed partially in front of the curtain, and the figure formed beside it, nearer to one end of the front row than to the other.

As the object of these séances was to aid the medium in producing the conditions which were necessary for the materialization of spirit-forms, and were not given with a view to satisfying public curiosity, test devices were not used. Having at last been successful in getting the full materialized form of “Katie” in the remarkable manner stated, it was concluded to hold the next light séance under strictly test conditions.

The sixth séance was held on the evening of March 31st. Mrs. Holmes was very sick, having to leave her bed to sit in the circle, and was obliged to lie upon a lounge a part of the time during the dark circle. Before beginning the light circle the parlor was thoroughly examined, and it was morally impossible for any accomplice of the medium to be concealed in it. The chimney place was walled up, the window shutters were firmly bolted, and the door of the room carefully closed and secured by marked strips of paper, so as to preclude the opening of it without detection. Mrs. Holmes was then put into a carefully examined muslin sack, the mouth of which was drawn up closely around her neck, and the drawing-string was fastened by many knots, which were sewn through with thread in such a manner as to render the unfastening of them by the medium an impossibility, without tearing the bag or breaking the string. Having taken every precaution against deception, the circle was formed, and the medium took her seat. Very soon the face of “Katie” appeared very distinctly at the aperture, the light of the room being quite strong. She spoke apparently with great ease, and showed unusuial strength, to our great surprise, as the medium was very sick. She many times extended her arm to full length out into the room, showing the short white sleeve of her dress near the shoulder. Her hand and arm were thoroughly materialized and perfectly symmetrical. She called up each member of the circle, spoke to them, when their faces were within a few inches of hers, and while she so conversed with them, she extended her arm through the opening arid placed her hand on each of their heads. When I was myself called up. I had every opportunity to scrutinise the features of the face, and I know as well as that I live that that form was neither a mask nor Mrs. Holmes. I am almost as confident that the form I then saw was the same I had seen distinctly, in June last, at the room of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, at No. 50 North Ninth street, and on and after December 5th at their room at No. 825 North Tenth street. While conversing with her, she extended her arm and placed her hand upon my head. As she did so, I saw distinctly <... continues on page 1-27 >