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Gibier, Dr Paul - Psychism Analysis of Things Existing - Nearly killed by a very evil spirit which possessed the medium



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

PSYCHISM Analysis of Things Existing ESSAYS BY PAUL GIBIER, M. D. Director of the New York Pasteur Institute.

In the course of our numerous experiments, especially the first ones, several more or less disagreeable adventures occurred, one of which came near ending tragically. Not that we have ever made any experiments in the dark, for this is a manner of experimenting to which we have always objected. We would add that all of our unpleasant occurrences in this line of work have taken place in full light.

One day, after making a few ironical observations upon the opinions formulated by an ill-bred "spirit," who manifested itself by rappings, the author thought for a moment that his knee-cap had been broken from a violent blow received from the edge of a table which had been rudely overturned towards him. When interrogated as to whether the injury done had been intentional, the larva answered affirmatively.

But it is of a circumstance which we will never forget, though we live a thousand years, that we wish especially to speak ; a circumstance which fully demonstrated the dangers to which one is exposed in making certain psychical researches and which forcibly suggested the necessity of taking the greatest precautions while pursuing them. We confess that our studies in this branch were followed with the customary fearlessness attributed to youth. We regarded it simply as an ordinary physiological investigation, and treated it like any other branch of Science. But since then, we have acquired the knowledge which comes with experience and learned the wisdom of employing certain forms, without which the experimenter subjects himself to serious danger.

In the following the author relates a circumstance in which he played an important role.

During the last months of the year 1886, we made regular, chiefly in the evening, experiments upon the animic force. Two seances, which we are about to relate, were especially full of incident. These seances were held in a laboratory in one of the ancient buildings of the "College Rollin' which had been temporarily transformed into a practical amphitheatre of dissection, for the students of the School of Medicine of Paris.

The halls we occupied, which served as laboratory, were near the dissecting rooms in which, at the time, were numerous "subjects." In one of the closets of our laboratory we had had some time before, a body, which had served for the study of a certain surgical operation. Those who are familiar with the question of which we are speaking, will understand the importance of these details.

The medium, Mr. S., who assisted in our researches, was an American. His animic force was emitted in sufficient quantity to produce "materialization" and the transportation of objects at a distance, without contact.

One Saturday evening in December, 1886, the medium, with Dr. de B., accompanied us to the laboratory of Rue Lhomond.

Two friends. Dr. A. and Mr. L., chief editor of a political and literary review, with whom we had made an appointment, had already arrived.

Our laboratory assistant had prepared everything necessary for the experiment, which included plaster of Paris, on which we designed to obtain impressions.

The plaster, after being mixed with water, was placed in a large vessel under the table around which all of us, excepting the assistant, sat. The vessel was covered with a large bell made of wire net, upon which we placed our feet. The room was perfectly lighted with two gas lamps, one of which was situated directly over us.

On that occasion we obtained but little result, no imprints, save a few insignificant tracings on the plaster, as if a finger had lightly touched it.

Several of us had on our clothes, spots of this substance which we had not before noticed. The medium complained of feeling uneasy. He felt, he said, bad influences about him and was strained to the utmost to resist being entranced.

After obtaining a certain number of phenomena, which would be of no interest to report, we ceased our experiments and left, the medium being so faint as to require our support.

On our way from Rue Lhomond to Rue Claude-Bernard, where we were going to take a carriage, we were suddenly assailed by a volley of strokes, which could be heard and were indeed most palpable (as we have every reason to remember), and which were especially directed toward the medium, who, after this encounter, was fairly overcome with fright. At last a carriage was found, and the medium, with Dr. de B., entered. Hardly were they shut in and started, before an irregular beating was heard on the roof of the carriage. These strokes continued, says Dr. de B., until they reached the Champs Elysees, where S., the medium, lived.

An appointment had been made for the following Saturday, and on that day we all met at the place of our last engagement. As on the former occasion, Mr. L., and Drs. de B. and' A., who practice in Paris, joined us, together with the laboratory assistant.

From the outstart, our undertakings did not run smoothly ; hardly had we entered the "Ecole Pratique," when we heard, in passing one of the anatomical amphitheatres, a hissing sound, followed by a violent thud as of some object thrown against a neighboring wooden partition. This noise, we ascertained, was occasioned by a small, empty jar, of the kind used for preserving anatomical specimens ; it had hit the wall, rebounded on one of our party and fallen to the ground without breaking. From whence came this missile? The evening was not yet advanced, and without the covering of night no one could have hidden in this gallery.

We next entered a vestibule which opened upon a staircase leading to the laboratory on the second floor ; the gas on the stairway had not yet been lighted and the place was rather dark.

Fearing another unpleasant encounter, we called to the assistant to make light for us. In the meantime we began mounting the stairs. Hardly had we reached the first flight (the medium being in advance), before another hissing was heard, followed by the breaking of glass, which had been thrown with violence on the stairs which we were climbing. After the gas had been lighted, we found a quantity of glass fragments which evidently had come from a jar similar to the one seen below. There was no one on the stairway and by what force the jar was launched there, remained a mystery to all.

When once we reached the laboratory, which was well lighted, we had but a recurrence of the events which took place in the preceding experiment, and the medium became more and more nervous.

While we stood around the table (a square, perfectly plain table, which had been purposely constructed), after having prepared the plaster, we said, half jokingly, in French, in order not to be understood by our medium, who spoke English only, that we would not be surprised if the rascally spirit of one of the many bodies dissected there, was not exerting an influence to prevent us from conducting our experiments successfully.

The words had barely been given utterance, before the medium was taken with a convulsive agitation which strained his whole frame, and he then became "entranced." That which followed was positively frightful ; he arose, and took a few irregular steps in the room, his eyes fairly bulging from his head in the tensity of their awful stare. Everyone, feeling that something unusual was about to happen, arose and remained watchful. S. turned and, seizing one of the heavy oaken stools upon which we had been seated, swung it about his head in a manner most terrible and threatening. All succeeded in escaping but the author, who, seated against the wall, remained alone to face this being of colossal build, who seemed to have malicious designs on him. They were separated only by the square table before which we had been quietly sitting but a few moments before.

The medium's countenance at this time was fearful to look on; he directed his left arm toward the author, with forefinger outstretched ominously, and with the right arm he swung the heavy stool about his head.

This scene, in the old college hall, which for the nonce had been converted into a laboratory for experimental psychology, was really a weird sight ; but it was not this which then claimed our attention. Our terrified friends stood aside, no one uttering a word; the medium alone made a sort of guttural rattle. As the author was unable to escape from the place where standing, being cornered, as it were, between the wall and table on one side and a stationary cupboard and stove on the other, he could watch every gesture of this man who seemed to have such malignant intent against him, which he gave every evidence of satisfying. He came nearer, well within reach of us, and then aimed a terrible blow at our head with the heavy wooden stool.

We had maintained great presence of mind, and, as may well be imagined, watched him intently. When we saw the object of his attitude, we with dexterity seized the table which was before us and, shifting it rapidly, held it before our adversary, thus protecting ourself as with a shield. The stool struck the table like a catapult, the blow making us retreat against the wall ; then a splintering was heard and the table was split in two. We continued to protect ourself behind it and pushed it on towards S., who eventually dropped his weapon and fell backwards on a chair in a swoon. We rushed to support him, but our attentions were useless, as he soon recovered consciousness, though he remembered nothing of what had transpired.

 In order not to frighten him we hid our emotion and seated ourselves around the table as before.

This time we purposely placed him next to the wall. The precaution did not prove useless, for he was again taken with a trance no less terrible than the first. He arose, after undergoing a convulsive agitation, then sat down again, with face contracted in a frightful rictus. His eyes appeared to bulge from their sockets. He again arose, we did the same ; we then changed our position and placed ourself between him and the stove, but, no sooner did he note the change, than he pushed the table and, seizing a chair, advanced upon us. Alive to the danger, we raised the stool, which he had previously thrown and used it, not as a weapon, but merely to ward off blows which he might launch at us.

There was a moment of anxiety for the on-lookers, when we (the medium and ourself) faced one another with our strange weapons in this well-nigh fantastical combat.

He advanced on us, still swinging the chair, and we were prepared to parry with our stool. when suddenly, we know not by what force we were prompted to try an experiment, said to be infallible in such occurrences, which had been taught us by a man familiar with these matters.

We threw aside the stool which we held, and advanced both hands towards this unfortunate "entranced" one, strongly "willing" that he should become immobilized. We projected, as it were, our will against him, adding to this cerebral effort an energetical gesture. The effect was instantaneous and we were the first to be surprised at the happy result ; instead of hurling the chair at us, it was thrown backwards, and, although quite a strong one, was broken past the possibility of repair. (The chair, we must say, was repulsed rather than thrown, and did not leave the hand of the medium, who really crushed it under the pressure of his hand as though it were a toy.  )

S. became as if struck by lightning, his body was shaken with a convulsive tremor, brusquely carried three or four yards distant from where he had stood and dropped on the floor against the wall. All his limbs were contorted, his joints cracked and finally he shrivelled and curled up like a ball.

A few magnetic passes helped him to regain consciousness. As soon as he recovered we left this place, so badly adapted for psychological research, and never returned to it for that purpose.

As we have just learned, experimental psychical research entails certain risks on the part of those who give themselves up to it, and should, on no condition, be indulged in for mere pastime.

The source of the experience

Gibier, Dr Paul

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