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Approved For Release 2000/08/15: CIA-RDP96-00792ROO0700840002-7 Reviews THE ICELANDIC PHYSICAL MEDIUM INDRIDI INDRIDASON. F Loftur R. Gissurarson and Erlendur Haraldssson. Proceedings of the S, eiety for Psychical Research, Volume 57, Part 214, January 198! 54-148. In 1905, a 22-year-old Icelandic farmhand came .to Reykjavik to leas typography. Through the people with whom he was staying he chanced visit a,newly formed circle that was trying to produce table tilting. (It w; said to be the first circle of its kind in Iceland.) When the newcomer w, invited to participate, the table immediately began to react violently. TI young man, Indridi Indridason, who is said to have known nothing of suc things (despite having had some "remarkable visions"), became frigf.. ened and wanted to run out of the house. Fatefully, however, he staye Thus began a series of remarkable physical phenomena that lasted for most 5 years among a group of participant-witnesses who observed and, an increasingly sophisticated extent, controlled them. The group teas, meeting when Indridason became ill with typhoid complicated by tuberc losis, from which he died 2 years later. The report by Gissurarson a Haraldsson, based on contemporary sources, is a judicious account of t seances in which Indridason participated. Haraldsson, a professor of ps chology at the University of Iceland and well known to the readers of ti Journal for his contributions to parapsychology, had suggested the tol for Gissurarson's B.A. thesis. Indridason was the first-and reputedly only-physical media known in Iceland. The Experimental Society that was formed to inves gate him held seances once or twice weekly, from September to June, nearly 5 years. (The total number of seances is not stated.) At first t sittings were held at members' houses, but soon after major manifestatic began, a special house was built in which to hold the seances. Apparen some phenomena, such as levitations, began to manifest themselves sp< taneously, as did Indridason's trance states in which most of the pl nomena took place. Other phenomena, such as apports and materiali. tions, began only after some experimentation and "training" had bf carried out. What this training consisted of is unclear; the authors of report came across no accounts of it, and it seems possible that a good F of it was autogenic. The authors think it likely, in any case, "that dur his very short career as a medium Indridason may have produced most the phenomena of physical mediumship that are known to have been ported elsewhere" (p. 132). The catalogue of Indridason's manifestations was reported to be as tensive, with considerable overlapping, as that of the better known r dium D. D. Home. However, Indridason's manifestations included p nomena that had never been reported of Home, such as ostensible der Approved For Release 2000/08/15: CIA-RDP96-00792ROO0700840002-7 206 Journal of the Ap \edtF.OrlR&Iea1S2OOO/08/15 : CIA-RDP96-OO?9 RO00700840002-7 207 terialization of a limb (although similar phenomena had been reported of other mediums). In a final appendix, Gissurarson and Haraldsson compare the seance manifestations of the two mediums. Of 107 items under 26 headings (levitations, materializations, apports, direct voice, etc.), 19 re- portedly manifested by Home were not shown by Indridason (e.g., lumin- osity of self and objects, "earthquake effect," ringing of bells, chirping of birds), whereas 28 listed under Indridason were not produced by Home (e.g., transportation of the medium through matter, heavy objects airborne many feet without support, two voices singing at the same time). Ex- cluding items such as the numbers of persons allowed at the seances (on occasion as many as 70 were present at Indridason's), 60 types of phe- nomena (e.g., loud knocks, strong gusts of wind, persons other than the mediums levitating during seances, completely materialized human forms) are listed under both. At the beginning, the controls on the alleged phenomena, judging from what accounts remain (the Minute Books of the Society were lost in 1942), were insufficient to warrant firm conclusions, which the authors acknowledge (and as might not be too unexpected in a pickup circle of witnesses, none of whom had had experience with things that go bump in the darkness, which is where most of the reported occurrences took place). However, at the height of the manifestations, in the winter of 1908-1909, especially under the supervision of physician Gudinundur Hannesson, an arch unbeliever (later founder of the Icelandic Scientific Society) who at that time asked the Society's permission to join the investigation, the de- scribed controls left little to be desired. Apparently not all controls were in use at any one time, but they included not only the standard stripping and reclothing of the medium (who was then sewed into his garment) and minute examinations of the seance rooms, but, in addition to the holding of the arms and legs of the entranced Indridason, the holding of the holders' limbs as well. The depth of Indridason's trances was tested by his pupillary responses to light and the reactions of different parts of his face and eyelids to needle pricks. An important control measure was the fas- tening or painting onto all potentially moveable persons and objects in the seance room (the number of persons present was reduced early to about five) of fluorescent material purchased from abroad, presumably to make it difficult to introduce substitutions. In addition, at Hannesson's urging, a dense mesh netting was introduced and carefully nailed down, floor to ceiling and wall to wall, under strips of lathe. This rendered the part of the room in which the entranced medium and his "watchers" were stationed a separate, sealed-off compartment. At irregular times, and with the seem- ingly always granted permission of the "spirit" controls that soon devel- oped, matches were lit or red darkroom lights were turned on for a few seconds to see, among other things, that no one was where one or another -and sometimes several-direct voices seemed to come from. (One control entity was about as feisty a character as has ever been reported in the mediumistic literature.) At different times, seances were held in Han- nesson's home, with the room used chosen by him at the last minute. Seances were also held at the home of the Bishop of Iceland. As to the possibility of conjuring, it is said that Iceland could boast of no practitioners of this art at the time, although, somewhat confusingly, it is also stated that Hannesson "was acquainted with various tricks used by conjurors for imitating the phenomena" (p. 120). It is neither desirable nor practicable for me to try to cover all the mate- rial presented in Gissurarson and Haraldsson's excellent report. The reader is urged to consult the monograph itself and also two of the sources for it that were published in an issue of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (Hannesson, 1924; Nielsson, 1924). One is an article by Haraldur Neilsson, a professor of theology at the University of Iceland, and the second is by Hannesson. The latter is a delightfully written ac- count not only of the precautions taken against fraud but of the states of mind of an entrenched unbeliever as he is confronted by the almost liter- ally maddening alternatives he is driven to entertain by way of trying to account for phenomena he knows to be impossible-such as that his close friend Neilsson, the principal "watcher" inside the net, is not only lying but even, episodically, insane. Hannesson seems to have been bothered especially by a heavy zither, treated with phosphorescent paint, that darted about the room like an agitated fly, with tunes coming from it all the while, and by the babble of male and female voices-several of them readily identifiable as particular deceased persons known to Hannesson and/or others-emanating from different parts of the room, sometimes with two of them singing a duet. Not surprisingly, this arch unbeliever explores at some length the possibilities of ventriloquism by way of trying to account for the voice phenomena. But, disconcerted though he is wher he is able, on different grounds, to rule them out one by one, he never tumbles to the fact that the "projection" of the human voice-except perhaps for the creation of distance effects by having the voice grow fain. -is quite impossible in the dark, where the usual behavior of the ventrilo- quist and his dummy in creating the illusion of projection would be quit( useless. At all events, despite his being forced to accept the fact of th( seemingly disembodied voices not being the medium's, Hannesson com pletely sidesteps the question of the nature of the personalities behind th( various self-professing communicators. Hannesson's testimony provides an intriguing glimpse into the psy chology of belief-and disbelief. Despite everything he witnessed, h; never relinquished his skepticism. Unlike Everard Fending, who, face( with unassailable facts (Fending, Baggally & Carrington, 1909), wrestle( his disbelief of Eusapia Palladino's carefully controlled phenomena to th mat and emerged with an inescapable, however uncomfortable, convictio. about the human (or whatever) powers that pass all understanding, Han nesson, true to the end to his unshakeable convictions about reality, re mained a staunch disbeliever. "After prolonged observation," he states i his article (cited on page 121 of Gissurarson and Haraldsson's report), Approved For Release 2000/08/15: CIA-RDP96-00792R000700840002-7 208 Journal of thA rOw6di$ `QrRe'Ieddl /08/15: CIA-RDP96-007 R000700840002-7 20` I saw no way round the inference that the things move often, if not always, in an altogether unaccountable manner, without anybody's either directly or indirectly causing their movements by ordinary means. But although I cannot get away from this conclusion, I am utterly unable to bring myself to believe in it altogether. It is not easy for unbelieving people to accept the theory that inanimate things move about without any natural causes. He remained, thus, an irremediably split mind, a counterpart, perhaps, of Neils Bohr, who was forced to postulate an irreducible duality and com- plementarity in the nature of light and other radiation. It must be said to Hannesson's credit, however, that he never repudiated what he claims to have observed; to the end-he later became President of the University of Iceland-he maintained (like Sir William Crookes upon his accession to the chair of the British Society) that he had nothing to retract. FEILDING, E., BAGGALLY, W. W., & CARRINGTON, H. (1909). Report on a series of sittings with Eusapia Palladino. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 23, 306-569. HANNESSON, G. (1924). Remarkable phenomena in Iceland. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 18, 239-272. NIELSSON, H. (1924). Remarkable phenomena in Iceland. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 18, 233-238. 4634 East 6th Street Denver, Colorado 80220 THE GHOSTS OF THE TRIANON: THE OMPLETE AN ADVEN- TURE BY C. A. E. MOBERLY AND E. F. JOURD N. Edited by Michael H. Coleman. Wellingborough, Nort ampto hire, England: Aquarian Press, 1988. Pp. 160. #7.99, paper. I BN -85030-774-0. It is always a benefit to psychical research when storic cases are sub- jected to fresh analysis, if only to see whether thy Land up as well to scrutiny as some of their defenders would have bel ve. This is espe- cially so in a case as complex and baffling as I' iberly d Jourdain's An Adventure. Since its original publication the b ter part a century ago, the case has generated a vast amount of co entary , raging from un- qualified endorsement to equally unqualifie rejection. st of us who have bothered to thread our way through t 's considerable secondary liter- ature, some of it quite recondite, don't ow quite what to conclude, ex- cept that perhaps the final word on the matter has yet to be said. Maybe the last word has still not been said, but Michael Coleman's book, The Ghosts of'the Trianon, comes about as close as we are likely to get, given the present state of knowledge about the affair. Without new discoveries to breathe fresh life into the case, the ghosts of the Trianon have finally been laid to rest. Though offering little that was not already known about Moberly and Jourdain and their An Adventure, Coleman has ably summarized and di- gested a vast amount of information about the case and the opinions sur- rounding it. Included are chapters on the authors, the writing, researching, and publishing of their book, initial reactions to the work in the psychical research and spiritualistic T et- subsequent responses by other re searchers, and later, more etalled investigations of the book and its au thors. Similar cases of so- lled walk-in retrocognition are reviewed, fol- lowed by a final summary/and appraisal of the evidence in the case. Con- cluding the work is a bi helpful appendix listing t All in all, e book is a known abo Moberly elicited since liography of some 105 items, followed by a e various editions and contents of An Adventure. ell-organized and concise summary of all that is d Jourdain's Adventure and the reactions it has is initial publication in 1911. aterial/reviewed .by Coleman consists of a mass of details Much of the themselves well to summary, as anyone will realize who has read some ofthe more elaborate commentaries on the case. Briefly, though, Colman . ecpunts the story as told by Moberly and Jourdain- who, during a visii>lo the Palace of Versailles in 1901, reported under- going a strange expe, gardens that Louis XV reported seeing an the nee. While touring the Petit Trianon, the house and had given to Marie Antoinette in 1774, both ladies sounds of music with no g things that seemed oddly "out of place"-the usicians in evidence, people dressed in antique feeling of "dreary unnatural depression" that costumes, and most of all, lasted the whole our. The until, in the course of convers their recollections: Miss Mobe terrace of the Petit Trianon, however, thought little of the experience tion, they noticed a curious discrepancy it remembered a woman sitting below the eas Miss Jourdain insisted that she hac act, she was quite certain that no sucl. seen no one in that location; in person had beep there at the time. Thinking that the experience may weh have been stratiger than either had initially supposed, they resolved tc write independent accounts of what each could remember, without further consultation. They also agreed to investigate the history of the place and tc revisit it agar at the earliest opportunity. Much to their surprise, the) discovered th t the scene was now significantly different from what the) remembered-buildings and topography had changed, and the people they now saw appeared normal in dress and behavior. Further research ir. historical records, however, revealed that the Petit Trianon and its ground: had indeed once looked much as they remembered it-in the late 18tL century, during the lifetime of Queen Marie Antoinette. . This story has given rise to a considerable secondary literature, of which Coleman's book is the best and perhaps final addition. In it he Approved For Release 2000/08/15: CIA-RDP96-00792R000700840002-7