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Observations placeholder

A. TEYNAC, de Biésignac visits the home of home of Mr. and Mrs. Caffray, ‘mediums of materialization’



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

As described in Spiritism (Western Fakirism) Study Historical, Critical and Experimental - Dr. Paul Gibier [1887]

This letter is addressed by its author to the editor of the Spiritist Review, who inserted it under the title of The Phenomenal Spiritualist from New York:


"I was aboard the Flora and in the bay of New York, from where I wrote to the Banner of Light, asking for the address of a remarkable medium; this newspaper addressed me to Mr. Henri Lacroix.

We understand that Mr. H. Lacroix is an honourable retired Canadian officer, a very helpful and obliging spiritualist, well known in Paris.  He led me to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Caffray, mediums of materialization.

I was therefore going to be able to see these phenomena for myself, by submitting them to a serious investigation, by myself, on which I rely a lot.

There were fourteen of us for this session, in a large room simply decorated, furnished with the medium's chest on which he sat during the experiments, two sofas, a music box, two guitars, two Basque drums and as many bells; a small waxed table, a Chinese umbrella suspended obliquely by its cane from the wall opposite to the one to which the chest is attached. Behind this umbrella, a lamp driven by a tilting mechanism, that acts with a slight movement, and designed to make the light more or less intense through the light fabric of the umbrella. Spirits move this mechanism.

Four gas balls were suspended in the center of the ceiling. I examined everything carefully and thoroughly; I noticed that the people who attended were serious, of an already mature age, with a distinguished appearance, and remained convinced, after a long examination, that a trick could not be performed, reserving for myself the right to submit everything to the control of reason. –

We stood in a circle, hand in hand, including the medium, for the dark séance because the gas was turned off.

The instruments played together, with rhythm, moved into space, touching the sides of the wall, running around us, standing on our heads, etc.; a luminous ball appeared in the middle of the circle and hands hit us on the knees; the gas being turned on again, we saw all the instruments and the attendants in their original places. I thought it would have taken eight people to shake these instruments, to move them so quickly from the ground to the ceiling, which was very high, and to generate the light ball, without footsteps, without dazzling; but these people had to be able to operate in the darkness.


For direct writing in bright light, Mr. J. Caffray showed me two slates, each embedded in a white wooden frame, a sponge and water; seawater by habit, I dipped my finger into this water that I tasted, it was pure and natural; I carefully cleaned the two surfaces of each slate: they were clean, I noticed it; we put two crayons on top of slates, and two other people covered each of them, we placed our hands on the mentioned slates, and after a few seconds, the scratching of the crayons became very well-heard; Mr. Caffray placed them on the floor, away from all the attendants, and the noise was perceived as well as it could be placed against our ears.

I opened these slates carefully, to realize that there was no trick, and on both slates, on both sides, there were messages from individuals well known to everybody.

For the materialization séance, the lamp behind the umbrella was lit and the gas nozzles were extinguished; we all placed ourselves one by one, facing the chest on which Mrs Gaffray sat; her husband was in the middle of us.

The light weakened behind the umbrella, indicating the presence of invisible forces that regulated it. The music box was raised by trained and impalpable hands, and the appearance of a small woman, smaller than the medium, appeared dressed in white; as she left the chest where the medium was standing, she walked to the middle of our circle, and there, after greeting us, she disappeared; the light, which changed, was often intense enough to distinguish the colour of the eyes, face, hair of the attendants and apparitions, as well as the whiteness of their teeth and always illuminated us sufficiently to not lose sight of either the chest where the medium was located, or the movements of the viewers.

Another spirit, bigger than the first, walked towards a lady sitting next to us, kissed her and held a conversation with her; she was this lady's dead daughter; she returned to the medium and disappeared. A young man came forward, dressed in grey, headed towards his father present among us, then he collapsed to make way for others.

Mr. Lacroix had the materialization of his brother, then his wife who wanted to shake my hand; I was very excited and surprised by staring at this white, human face, whose hand pressing mine was cold and wet; she exchanged a few words with her husband, told me Good bye, and then withdrew to disappear.

A spirit showed us how it materialized; we saw a very small white spot, which gradually grew larger and larger, and reached the size of an ordinary scarf; a breath agitated it, lifted it in the middle, which widened it giving it the dimension of a very large veil; this veil rose, and below it, there was a woman who could speak to us, offering us natural flowers full of sweet perfumes. Then she dematerialized herself in this way: her clothes and veil fell to the ground in clearly detached pieces, reduced to a veil as wide as both hands, which became an imperceptible point; finally everything disappeared.

Six ladies or damsels, four men, three children and an Indian appeared to us in this séance and offered us bouquets and flowers taken from the fields, in the gardens, according to the participants, or made by these strange beings; these very real flowers remained in our hands.

An invisible force was raising the music box and constantly regulating the light; I had previously inspected the floor, the chest, every piece of furniture in the living room; the doors on which my eyes were focused were never opened and I have good eyesight; young and strong, gullible, inquiring, I was as sure as one can be that what was happening before me was not the effect of anything, especially since all those present saw what my touch, ears and eyes were seeing was the reality.

M. J. Caffray, medium, is a thirty-year-old man; his lady, who possesses such a beautiful faculty, is twenty-five years old; they both appear to be full of frankness and their faces bear the serious impression of people who do not just do a job....»


A. TEYNAC, de Biésignac (Gironde).


The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps