Bozzano, Professor Ernesto - The medium becomes possessed and his hands, lifted as though to seize something, moved like the claws of a wild beast
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Death and its Mystery: After Death – Camille Flammarion
To-day I can speak of it in the general interest of metaphysical research, omitting, however, the name of the person chiefly concerned. Seance held, on April 5, 1904.-The following were present: Dr. Giuseppe Venzano, Ernesto Bozzano, the Cavaliere Carlo Peretti, Signore X-, Signora Guidetta Peretti, and the medium L. P.
The seance was begun at ten o'clock in the evening. From the beginning we noted that the medium was troubled, for some unknown reason. The spirit-guide Luigi, the medium's father, did not manifest himself, and L. P. gazed with terror toward the left corner of the room. Shortly afterwards he freed himself from his "spirit-controls," rose to his feet, and began a singularly realistic and impressive struggle against some invisible enemy. Soon he uttered cries of terror, drew back, threw himself to the floor, gazed, toward the corner as though terrified, then fled to the other corner of the room, shouting: “Back ! Go away. No, I don’t want to. Help me! save me!"
Not knowing what to do, the witnesses of this scene concentrated their thoughts with intensity upon Luigi, the spirit-guide, and called upon him to aid. The expedient proved effective, for little by little the medium grew calmer, gazed with less anxiety toward the corner of the apartment ; then his eyes took on the expression of someone who looks at a distant spectacle, then a spectacle still more distant. At last he gave vent to a long sigh of relief and murmured:
“He's gone! what a bestial face!”
Soon afterward, the spirit-guide Luigi manifested himself. Expressing himself through the medium, he told us that in the room in which the seance was being held there was a spirit of the basest nature, against which it was impossible for him to struggle; that the intruder bore an implacable hatred for one of the persons of the group. Then the medium exclaimed in a frightened voice:
“There he is again! I can't defend you any longer. Stop the-“
It is certain that Luigi wished to say, “Stop the seance,” but it was already too late. The evil spirit had taken possession of our medium. He shouted; his eyes shot glances of fury; his hands, lifted as though to seize something, moved like the claws of a wild beast, eager to clutch his prey. And. the prey was Signore X-, at whom the medium's furious looks were cast. A rattling and a sort of concentrated roaring issued from our medium’s foam-covered lips, and suddenly these words burst from him:
“I’ve found you again at last, you coward! I was a Royal, Marine. Don’t you remember the quarrel in Oporto? You killed me there. But to-day I'll have my revenge, and strangle you.”
These distracted words were uttered as the hands of the medium, L- P., seized the victim's throat, and tightened on it like steel pincers. It was a fearful sight. The whole of Signore X‘s tongue hung from his wide-open mouth; his eyes bulged. We had gone to the unfortunate man's assistance. Uniting our efforts with all the energy which this desperate situation lent us, we succeeded, after a terrible hand-to-hand struggle, in freeing him from the desperate grip. At once we pulled him away, and thrust him outside locking the door. We barred the medium's access to the door; exasperated, he tried to break through this barrier and run after his enemy. He roared like a tiger. It took all four of us to hold him. At last, he suffered a total collapse and sank down upon the floor.
On the following day we prepared to clear up this affair-to seek information which might enable us to confirm what “the Oporto spirit" had said. We were, in fact, already quite certain of the truth of the accusation, for it was noteworthy that Signore X had not protested in the least when the serious charge of homicide had been hurled at him.
The words uttered by the furious spirit served me as a means for arriving at the truth. He had said, "I 'was a Royal Marine.” And I knew vaguely that Signore X- had, himself, in his youth, been an officer of marines; that he had witnessed the Battle of Lissa, and that after resigning his commission he had devoted himself to commercial enterprises.
With these facts as a basis, I proceeded to ask a retired vice-admiral for other details; he, too, had fought at Lissa. As for Dr. Venzano, he questioned a relative of Signore X-, with whom the latter had broken off all relations years before. Between us we gathered separate bits of information which tallied amazingly, and which, brought together, led us to these conclusions:
Signore X- had, indeed, served with the Royal Marines. One day, being upon a battle-ship on a training cruise, he had landed for some hours at Oporto, Portugal. During his stay, while he was walking in the city, he heard a noise of drunken, furious voices coming from an inn. He perceived that the language was Italian, and, realizing that it was a quarrel between men of his vessel, he went into the room, recognized his men and commanded them to return to their ship. One of the drinkers, more intoxicated than the others, answered him back and even went so far as to threaten his superior officer. Angered by his attitude, the officer drew his sword and plunged it into the insolent fellow’s breast; the latter died soon afterward. As a result of this adventure, the officer was court-martialled, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, and, on the expiration of his term, was asked to resign his commission.
Those are the facts; it follows from them that the disturbing spirit had not lied. He had exactly stated his rank as a Royal Italian Marine. He had remembered that Signore X- had killed him. He had, moreover,-and this was a particularly remarkable statement, indicated the place where he had died, the setting for the drama, Oporto.
A painstaking inquiry confirmed the authenticity of all this. By what hypothesis could one explain occurrences so strikingly in agreement-those which were revealed to us at the seance of April 5, 1904, and those which had taken place in Portugal many years before?